Novak Djokovic was honored to be watched by Roma manager Jose Mourinho at the Italian Open.
Mourinho was in attendance Saturday as Djokovic earned a hard-fought 7-6(7-5), 6-2 win over Tomas Martin Etcheverry in the second round.
The legendary Portuguese football coach — who used to manage Djokovic's favorite club Real Madrid from 2010 to 2013 — would later embrace Djokovic in the dressing room.
Novak Djokovic and Jose Mourinho's rendezvous. The Special Ones ⚽🎾
🎥: internazionalibnlditalia on Instagram pic.twitter.com/ww8bvAOZJO
— Srihari (@srihariravi12) May 13, 2023
And according to Djokovic, it's not the first time “The Special One” has come to watch him play tennis.
“Yes, I met him. I met him more than a few times in the past,” Djokovic said in the post-match press conference (via Tennis 365). “He was coming to watch me play in London, especially in the World Tour Finals. We had the tournament there for many years, and he was coaching in London, so he was coming to watch.
“He’s an avid tennis fan. And, of course, one of the greatest football coaches that we have, not just today, but in history. So I’m really honored that he’s coming to watch, watch my matches. I really appreciate that. A very, very nice person and always was very kind to me and my team.”
Djokovic has watched Mourinho coach Real Madrid a few times, however, he's not done it since the latter became Roma coach in 2021.
It's something he is looking to change in the near future.
“Hopefully, I can return the favor and go watch his team when he’s coaching because I don’t think I’ve ever done that,” Djokovic added. “Maybe, maybe Real Madrid. When he was in Madrid, I went to watch a couple of times and yeah, just the ‘Special One’, as they call him, came to see me. So I’m very happy. Thank you.”
Novak Djokovic, the defending champion in Rome, defeated Grigor Dimitrov defeated 6-3, 4-6, 6-1 on Sunday to advance to the last 16.