New Delhi, May 17 (IANS) Novak Djokovic has hit out at Cameron Norrie after the Brit hit a game-winning smash that struck the Serbian in the calf during their last-16 match at the Italian Open on Tuesday.
It started with Norrie’s relentless ‘come on’ and fist-pumps after every successful point which clearly bothered Djokovic.
That irritation escalated early in the second set when Norrie, who was down a set and a break, hit the Serb in the leg with an overhead smash, after Djokovic had turned his back and essentially conceded a point. The Serb appeared displeased with the smash and gave Norrie a long glare in response as the Brit raised his hand in apology.
Speaking about the incident during the post-match press conference, Djokovic accused Norrie of using tactics that were not in accordance with “fair play.”
“I did watch the replay when he hit me. Maybe you could say he didn’t hit me deliberately. I don’t know if he saw me. Peripherally 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,” the 35-year-old was quoted as saying by Eurosport.
There were also other instances of bad sportsmanship from Norrie as he asked for the trainer, and took a medical time-out, just as Djokovic was about to serve for the match.
“From the very 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 players know in the locker room. It’s not fair play, it’s not how we treat each other. But, again, it’s allowed, so…”
Djokovic further said that he was not happy with the way the Brit conducted himself on the court.
“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,” he added.
Despite all the drama, Djokovic has his eyes on a bigger prize as he progressed to the Italian Open quarterfinals for the 17th year in a row with a 6-3 6-4 win over the British No. 1 as he chases his seventh title in Rome.