World number one Novak Djokovic admitted he lost his cool as rain in Rome held up his second-round match against Taylor Fritz at the Italian Open.
The Serbian, back in action after sitting out the Masters in Madrid, had taken the opening set 6-3 before moving a break ahead in the second to lead 5-4.
However, Djokovic then failed to serve out for the match as American Fritz, who had beaten British number one Dan Evans in the previous round, rallied.
With conditions worsening and rain getting heavier, Djokovic’s temper boiled over, shouting at the umpire.
Eventually, play was suspended, with the players coming back onto court to resume action some three hours later .
Fritz, the world number 31, held his service game after the resumption to force the tie-break, which Djokovic came through to win 6-3 7-6 (5).
Speaking afterwards on Amazon Prime, Djokovic said it was never easy playing in those conditions.
“We played almost two full sets non-stop under the rains, at one point it was quite dangerous for movement.
“I kind of lost my cool towards the end of that second set when I served for the match.”
Because of the rain delay, all of the other ATP matches were cancelled.
Earlier Spanish qualifier Alejandro Davidovich Fokina had pulled off an unexpected 6-4 7-6 (2) win over 16th seed Grigor Dimitrov and goes on to meet British number two Cameron Norrie, who defeated Roberto Carballes Baena 6-4 6-4. The winner will play Djokovic for a place in the quarter-finals.
Home player Lorenzo Sonego celebrated his birthday by beating 14th seed Gael Monfils 6-4 5-7 6-4 in the first round, which was the Frenchman’s first match since February 8 when he picked up a calf injury at the Australian Open.
Kei Nishikori was handed a walkover in his second-round match against 11th seed Pablo Carreno Busta.
Number eight seed Diego Schwartzman was beaten 6-1 6-3 by Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime, who moves into the third round.
Ninth seed and home favourite Matteo Berrettini, who was runner-up in Madrid on Sunday, came from behind to beat Nikoloz Basilashvili 4-6 6-2 6-4.
Back after a bout of COVID-19 American Reilly Opelka progressed with a 6-4 6-4 win over Italian wildcard Lorenzo Musetti in the second round.
“It felt like a rough flu,” Opelka said in a telephone interview. “Definitely put me out completely for five days. And then I stayed home for another 10 or 11 days, at least.”
Other first-round winners on Tuesday included Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut, the 10th seed, Australian John Millman and Canada’s number 13 seed Denis Shapovalov.
Andy Murray will make his competitive comeback at the Internazionali d’Italia this week after he and Liam Broady were entered into the men’s doubles as alternates.
Murray has not played in a tournament since losing to Andrey Rublev in the second round in Rotterdam in March due to a groin injur