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Norrie hits back at Djokovic’s claims of poor sportsmanship
CAMERON NORRIE has hit back at Novak Djokovic’s accusations of poor sportsmanship. The pair had a fiery clash in Rome two weeks ago, with the main flashpoint coming when Norrie hit Djokovic on the ankle with a smash after the Serbian had turned away to walk back to the baseline.
In his press conference afterwards, Djokovic criticised Norrie not just for that moment but for what he perceived as the British No.1 celebrating in his face after winning points, as well as a medical timeout he took prior to the final game of the match.
Djokovic, who won the contest comfortably, said: “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.”
Norrie did not see what the fuss was about, saying of the smash: “I apologised straightaway and I didn’t see him. I looked up and hit the ball down low. I didn’t see him turn and concede the point.
“I wanted to win, it was one of those matches where he’s one of the best players in the world and I wanted to play my best and compete as hard as I could. I didn’t think I was in his face at all. I think, if anyone knows me, I’m pretty vocal in some matches. It was a regular tennis match for me.
“I was feeling my hip a little bit and I took the medical time-out. It is within the rules. And for him also it’s in the rules to start the match on his time – being late.”
The last comment was a reference to the fact Djokovic turned up more than 10 minutes late.
“He wanted some more time on the physio bed and the match was scheduled for 11am,” said Norrie. “And we walked out maybe 11.12am, 11.13am. I don’t think he saw any problem with that. He never said anything to me. And he never apologised. I asked: ‘Was that okay to do that?’ They said: ‘Yeah, it is within the rules.’ After 15 minutes, he gets defaulted. I said: ‘okay,’ and I continued warming up. I’ve never seen that before from any player. Regardless if it’s a tennis
match or not, you turn up on time for whatever it is.”
Djokovic’s complaints have sparked a debate in tennis about where the line is drawn between firing yourself up and disrespect towards your opponent, with Marton Fucsovics also complaining about Sebastian Baez celebrating the Hungarian’s mistakes during a match in Lyon last week.
“If you’re doing it right in front of someone’s face and looking at them and trying to taunt them, that’s not great,” said Norrie. “I was not doing that, Baez was not doing that, and I think it’s part of the game. I love seeing players compete and really get up for the matches and really wanting to win. You see it in all sports. For me, I’m competing as hard as I can. I’m not trying to do it to distract the other
guy or anything. This is the only time that anyone’s had an issue with it.”
Norrie could have had reason to complain about a partisan crowd for his dramatic five-set win over Benoit Paire but the 27-year-old enjoyed the atmosphere and can expect more of the same today when he takes on another Frenchman, Lucas Pouille.
Djokovic is also in trouble with the Kosovo Tennis Federation, who are preparing an official complaint about his on-camera message and will call for him to be fined.
After his first-round victory on Monday, Djokovic wrote on the camera lens: “Kosovo is the heart of Serbia. Stop the violence.”
Kosovo declared independence in 2008 but Serbia has never recognised that and violence broke out in the north of the country over
the weekend after ethnic Albanian mayors were installed in Serbiandominated areas.
Djokovic’s message drew attention on social media, with the Serbian telling journalists from his country: “As a Serb, it hurts me what is happening in Kosovo...This is the least I could do. As a public figure, I feel an obligation to show support for our people and all of Serbia.”
The French Tennis Federation have said they would not be taking any action but Jeton Hadergjonaj from the Kosovo Federation said: “It’s not the first time that Djokovic is doing this. He’s continually provoking Kosovo. We have to react. Tomorrow we will send an official request for Djokovic to be charged, to have a fine. We will request from the ITF, the ATP and the French Tennis Federation.”