Novak Djokovic rips into Cameron Norrie after Rome spat – ‘He brought the fire, and I responded’

Shahida Jacobs
Novak Djokovic during a match
Novak Djokovic in action

Novak Djokovic has lashed out at Cameron Norrie for “not” playing fair during their heated Italian Open clash on Tuesday.

Defending champion Djokovic booked his place in quarter-final of the ATP Masters 1000 tournament with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over the 13th seed, but it was a feisty affair at Foro Italico.

Already upset with Norrie’s antics – including shouting “C’mon” several times during the match – the 22-time Grand Slam winner’s frustrations boiled over during a rally in the second set.

After giving up on a point, Djokovic turned his back and started walking back to the baseline, but Norrie then smashed the ball into his ankle.

The British No 1 had clearly kept his eye on the ball and wasn’t aware of his opponent’s position when he made contact with the ball. He also apologised immediately, but Djokovic was furious although he didn’t get drawn into a war of words and focused on the remainder match.

READ MORE: WATCH: Novak Djokovic furious after Cameron Norrie smashes ball into him

The top seed eventually got the crucial break a few games later and came out to serve for the match, but there was one last act from Norrie as he took a medical timeout.

Djokovic eventually wrapped up the match, but the handshake was quite frosty and he didn’t hold back in his criticism of Norrie during the post-match press conference.

“I did watch the reply when he hit me. Yeah, maybe you could say he didn’t hit me deliberately. I don’t know if he saw me,” he said.

“I mean peripherally [sic] you could 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.

“It was not so much maybe about that, but it was maybe a combination of things. From the beginning, I don’t know, he was doing all the things that were allowed. 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 [as] players know in the locker room know is not fair play, it’s not how we treat each other. But again, it’s allowed, so…

“I get along with Cameron really well all these years that he’s been on Tour. Practiced with each other. He’s very nice 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 is all. What happens on the court we leave on the court, and we move on.”