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Novak Djokovic questions Cameron Norrie attitude after Italian Open drama

Novak Djokovic questions Cameron Norrie attitude after Italian Open drama
© Reuters
Novak Djokovic accuses Cameron Norrie of a lack of "fair play" after the Serbian's tense 6-3 6-4 win over the British number one in the Italian Open quarter-finals.

Novak Djokovic has accused British number one Cameron Norrie of lacking "fair play" following their Italian Open last-16 clash on Tuesday.

The six-time and defending champion outlasted Norrie 6-3 6-4 to advance to the quarter-finals in Rome for the 17th year running, but there was drama in the fourth game of the second set.

With Djokovic seeking to back up a break in the third game, both players advanced to the net, where Norrie's forehand hit the tape and bounced up awkwardly for Djokovic to loft a volley high up into the air.

Djokovic's shot would give Norrie a simple overhead smash to break back, and the Serbian turned his back and proceeded to walk away, seemingly knowing that the game was lost.

However, while he trudged back to the baseline, Norrie's smash whacked him on the ankle, and he turned around to direct an intense stare at his opponent, who immediately put his hand up to apologise.

Novak Djokovic reacts at the Italian Open on May 14, 2023© Reuters

After Norrie had backed up his break with a hold for a 3-2 lead in the second set, the British number one did not acknowledge Djokovic when the two men went to sit down, but the 22-time Grand Slam winner gave him another disapproving look.

Norrie also took a medical timeout before Djokovic served out the match, and at the end of the 90-minute contest, the pair exchanged a curt handshake at the net.

While Djokovic has conceded that Norrie may not have attempted to intentionally hit him with his smash, he questioned the 27-year-old's "attitude" over his medical timeout and other perceived gamesmanship tactics.

"I did watch the replay when he hit me. Yeah, maybe you could say he didn't hit me deliberately. I don't know if he saw me. I mean, peripheralically [sic] you can always see where the player is positioned on the court. The ball was super slow and super close to the net. I just turned around because the point was over for me," Djokovic said at his post-match press conference.

"It's maybe not so much about that but it was kind of a combination of things. From the very beginning, I don't know, he was doing all the things that were allowed.

Cameron Norrie pictured at the Italian Open on May 12, 2023© Reuters

"He's allowed to take a medical timeout. He's allowed to hit a player. He's allowed to say 'c'mon' in the face more or less every single point from basically the first game.

"Those are the things that we players know in the locker room it's not fair play, it's not how we treat each other. But, again, it's allowed.

"I got along with Cameron really well all these years that he's been on the tour. Practised with each other. He's a very nice guy off the court, so I don't understand this kind of attitude on the court, to be honest.

"But it is what it is. He brought the fire, and I responded to that. I'm not going to allow someone behaving like this just bending my head. I'm going to respond to that. That's all it is. What happens on the court, we leave it on the court, and we move on."

Djokovic will take on Danish 20-year-old Holger Rune in the quarter-finals as he aims to progress to the last four of the Italian Open for the 10th time in a row.

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Cameron Norrie pictured at the Italian Open on May 12, 2023
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