Italian Open drama lingers as Novak Djokovic and Cameron Norrie brace for Davis Cup showdown

History has a way of revealing the bitter rivalry between two opponents in sports. The likes of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, and Roger Federer would be remembered easily. But the rivalry between Novak Djokovic and British Cameron Norrie has always been a clash of the tournament.

At the 2022 Wimbledon, Novak Djokovic broke home favorites Cameron Norrie’s heart when he defeated the Brits in what seemed to be the tennis star’s first Slam title, and at the Italian Open, Cameron reacted but didn’t go as planned.

Cameron Norrie to face Novak Djokovic again in Davis Cup

Cameron Norrie will face Novak Djokovic in the knockout phase (quarterfinals) of the Davis Cup. However, Cameron has revealed he will approach Novak Djokovic as just another player when he leads the Great Britain team against Serbia for a spot in the semifinal.

Novak Djokovic, who is just fresh from winning a record seventh ATP Finals title will be a very tough opponent for the British star: “He’s had an unbelievable year and he’s in huge form at the moment,” Cameron Norrie said. “He looked very fresh compared to a lot of the other players in the Tour Finals. The way he served is unbelievable, especially against [Jannik] Sinner in the final.

Novak Djokovic
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“There’s no greater challenge in tennis at the moment than to go out and play him. I’ve known for the last month that I’ll be playing him, so I’ve been preparing as well as I can. I’ve done a lot of two on ones and a lot of running from side to side, and I’ll have to do that again to have a chance. I think I just need to go out and be myself,” he added.

The absence of top British players like Andy Murray and Dan Evans have made the team look less formidable, as the two players have been replaced by Joe Salisbury, the recent US Open and ATP Finals doubles champion, and the Wimbledon doubles champion Neal Skupski. Liam Broady, who recently reached the top 100 for the first time, completes the team.

What happened between Norrie and Djokovic at Italian Open?

In May 2023, Novak Djokovic defeated Cameron Norrie 6-3,6-4 to reach the Italian Open quarter-finals for the 17th year in a row. Furthermore, during the match Cameron Norrie struck the ball on the Serbian leg with a smash during their last-16 tie.

The drama happened when Djokovic had given up on a point when Norrie produced a game-winning smash that struck Djokovic in the calf. Djokovic did not look pleased with the smash and responded with a lengthy glare towards Norrie. Though the British star said sorry and raised his hand in apology, it drew whistles from the crowd.

After the game, Novak Djokovic accused Norrie of using tactics which he felt were not fair play. “I did watch the replay when he hit me,” he told reporters. “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. It was not so much maybe about that, it was maybe about that, but it was maybe a combination of things. From the very beginning he was doing all the things that were allowed.”

Novak Djokovic leads Cameron Norrie 3-0 in the head 2 head and with the Serbian current form this season, Norrie might not have any chance against the world no.1 today. What are your predictions for the game? Let us know in the comments section.

Victor Okechukwu

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