World number one Novak Djokovic was dumped out of the Rome Masters by Thomas Berdych on Friday, despite having served for the match.
The Serb was 6-2 and 5-2 up before he succumbed to some last-ditch desperate pressure from the big-serving Czech.
Berdych broke Djokovic in that game and came roaring back to take the set 7-5 – a shock his more prestigious opponent could not recover from.
World number six Berdych was in inspired form, though Djokovic has been out of sorts in the past few weeks following an ankle injury, and took the deciding set 6-4.
A Berdych victory was not on the cards as he has lost his last 11 consecutive meetings with Djokovic, while the Serb will be concerned about his form going into the French Open.
He is still likely to be Rafael Nadal’s biggest threat to the Roland Garros title, but Djokovic’s second round loss in Monte Carlo last week before this defeat may eat at him.
Djokovic’s chances of deposing Nadal in Paris will have increased with the uncertainty over Andy Murray’s fitness.
He gave lots of credit to Berdych but lamented the mental lapse that let the Czech back in the match and acknowledged he must pout the defeat behind with the French Open just around the corner.
"I know I can play well on clay but I shouldn't allow myself to have these moments during a match," Djokovic said.
"You must congratulate your opponent and be moving on. The French might be my best chance yet, I hope so. I don't want to make any predictions."
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