Holger Rune notched his second straight win over Novak Djokovic on Wednesday as the Dane posted a 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 win in a match marked by outbursts from both winner and loser.
Seventh seed Rune sparred with chair umpire Mohamed Lahyani over a second set line call while a fraught Djokovic also had his moments with the ATP official, complaining over a time warning at a delicate third-set moment.
The exit of Djokovic – combined with that of Carlos Alcaraz previously – leaves the men’s field wide open at the Foro Italico.
Between them, Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have won 16 of the last 18 editions here; the last time one of the pair did not figure in a Rome final was 2004.
Rune is only the sixth player to defeat Djokovic in Rome.
“This is really a big win for me,” the seventh seed said. “Every match against Rune ealy a big win for me, Every match against Novak is a huge challenge.
“He’s one of the greatest to ever play the game. I was proud of myself and enjoyed every minute out there.”
Rune added: “I have to stay humble, I still have a lot to achieve.
“I’m a huge fighter on court, I leave everything out there. I had to fight hard and play my best tennis.
“I’m a big fan of Novak; he’s a huge inspiration. He puts huge pressure on you – I had to stay brave.”