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Djokovic struck with a bottle from the stands after winning the opener against Rome

Novak Djokovic was left in pain after being hit with a hard plastic water bottle as he left the court following his 6-3, 6-1 win over Frenchman Corentin Moutet at the Rome Open to advance to the third round on Friday.

World number one Djokovic was left sitting on the ground in pain as the bottle hit him on the back of the head as he signed autographs for fans as he left center court at the Foro Italico.

Djokovic was then led out of the arena on foot by security personnel who guarded the 24-time Grand Slam winner as he made his way into the bowels of the stands.

In a video of the incident published by Italian media, it is unclear whether the hard reusable bottle was deliberately launched from the stands or accidentally fell on Djokovic’s head.

Tournament organizers did not respond to AFP’s request for an update on Djokovic’s condition, but if he is well he will next face Chile’s Alejandro Tabilo as the Serbian warms up for the French Open , with a great opportunity to add to his string of titles on the Foro. Italico, where only Rafael Nadal has won more with 10.

The top seed, who turns 37 a few days before Roland Garros kicks off later this month, easily won his first match since losing to Casper Ruud in the Monte Carlo Masters semi-final.

Djokovic has made no secret in the past of his love of playing in Italy and with a number of big names injured or struggling, he will certainly fancy his chances of a record-extending 41st Masters 1000 crown.

The tournament in Rome, which runs until May 19, is missing two of its biggest stars, with Italian world number two Jannik Sinner and third seed Carlos Alcaraz both withdrawing from the men’s draw before the start.

Meanwhile, clay court icon Nadal got off to a cracking start in Thursday’s first round against qualifier Zizou Bergs and finds himself on the opposite side of the draw to his great rival, meaning the only way the pair could face each other is an unlikely would be the final. .

One of Djokovic’s potential threats, third seed Alexander Zverev, entered the third round with a 6-0, 6-4 win over Australian Aleksandar Vukic.

And it was a similar story for Djokovic, who, after being briefly deceived by Moutet’s flamboyant series of shots, slowly got into gear and fired seven games in a row from 3-1 down in the first set to take control of the match to take over.

Moutet briefly put a smile on the faces of Djokovic and the crowd when his phone went off in the middle of an enthralling opening game of the second set, which lasted nine minutes and saw the Frenchman save four break points before relenting and allowing Djokovic to cruise into the second set . victory.