The Special One’ was on hand to see one of tennis’ special ones win his first match at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia: Decorated football manager Jose Mourinho watched Novak Djokovic beat Tomas Martin Etcheverry in the second round on Friday night.
Currently the manager of the Italian Serie A club Roma, Mourinho, a native of Portugal and widely considered one of the greatest football managers of all time, is no stranger to tennis. A manager in the Premier League for more than a decade, Mourinho was frequently spotted at the Queen’s Club, and the ATP World Tour Finals when they were held in London, but the Foro Italico is now his home venue after he took over Roma two years ago.
Four years ago, Andy Murray famously revealed that Mourinho consoled him with ‘a big hug’ after he lost 6-0, 6-1 to Roger Federer at the World Tour Finals in 2014, but on Friday night, Mourinho got to see another member of the ‘Big 4’ thrive: Djokovic rallied from an early break down, an a 3-0 tiebreak deficit, in his 7-6(5), 6-2 win.
The two then caught up with each other after the match, as documented by the tournament’s official Twitter account.
– Nole, can I get an autograph?
— Internazionali BNL d'Italia (@InteBNLdItalia) May 12, 2023
In his post-match press conference, Djokovic expanded on his relationship with Mourinho, who earned his nickname from British media during his tenure managing Chelsea, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur. He also managed Inter Milan and Real Madrid prior to landing in Rome last year.
“I met him more than few times in the past. He was coming to watch me play in London, especially in the [ATP] World Tour Finals,” Djokovic said. “We had a tournament there for many years. He was coaching in London. He was coming to watch.
“He’s an avid tennis fan, of course one of the greatest football coaches that we have not just today but in history. I’m really honored that he’s coming to watch my matches. I really appreciate that. Very, very nice person. Always was very kind to me and my team.
“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. Maybe Real Madrid, when he was in Madrid, I went to watch couple times. Yeah, just the ‘Special One,’ as they call him, came to see me, so I’m very happy.”