Sports Desk : dhakamirror.com
Novak Djokovic booked his place in the Italian Open quarter-finals for the 17th straight year with a 6-3 6-4 victory over British No.1 Cameron Norrie in Rome on Tuesday.
World No.1 Djokovic, the defending champion in Rome, complained about the quality of the courts in the build-up to the match but that did not matter as he battled past Norrie, in what was a repeat of last year’s Wimbledon semi-final.
It proved to be a feisty encounter with Norrie irked by Djokovic arriving 10 minutes late – and after some stern first-set exchanges – the animosity grew when the British star hit a smash into the 35-year-old’s left leg with his back turned.
‘I don’t know if he saw me, I mean, peripherally you can always see where the player is positioned on the court,’ Djokovic said about the incident. ‘The ball was super slow and super close to the net. I just turned around because the point was over for me.’
Djokovic was unhappy with Norrie’s medical time-out and screaming in-between points, adding: ‘From the very beginning, he was doing all the things that were allowed. He’s allowed to take a medical timeout. Allowed to hit a player. Allowed to say ‘C’mon’ in the face more or less every single point from basically [the] first game.’
Tuesday’s last-16 clash was the third time Djokovic and Norrie have faced each other and the first-ever meeting on clay, with the Serbian now winning all three times against the world No.13, as he steps up preparations for Roland-Garros.
Djokovic headed into the match as a strong favourite following wins over Tomas Martin Etcheverry and Grigor Dimitrov and will next face Holger Rune as he looks to go on and win the title in the penultimate event before the French Open.
‘So far so good!’ Djokovic said after the win when asked about his tournament so far. ‘It was an early start today. Strange conditions and we warmed up for just 20 minutes. I was rushing a little bit and we couldn’t play before because of the rain, so I am glad to overcome the challenge in straight sets and move on.’
Quizzed about spending time in the treatment room with injury before the match, Djokovic added: ‘Well, you know… everyday there is something. Thankfully I was able to play and finish the match. Hopefully tomorrow I will feel even better.’