NOVAK DJOKOVIC gave Cameron Norrie a ‘death stare’ at the Italian Open after the British tennis ace smashed a ball at his left ankle.
The Serbian moved into the quarter-finals of the Masters 1000 event in Rome following a 6-3 6-4 victory that contained plenty of needle and tension between the two players.
Novak Djokovic starred down Cameron Norrie after being hit by the ball
Norrie did apologise for the moment
The world No.1 was riled in the second set when Norrie drilled a shot directly at him on break point to win game four.
After an extended rally, Djokovic had turned his back and started to walk away from the net on the assumption that the point was over and he had lost the game.
But Norrie’s powerful overhead smash at the net bounced off Djokovic’s left ankle.
The seven-time Wimbledon champion immediately turned around and gave the British No.1 a long stare in anger.
Mark Petchey, commentating live for Amazon Prime Video, gasped as the ball ricocheted off the unsuspecting Djokovic.
He said: “I am sure Norrie was irritated to some degree that he was delayed at the start (by Djokovic). Some people will say Novak shouldn’t have turned his back but in tennis that is a sign you have given up the point.
“As if to say, you can put it anywhere you want, you can roll it over, I won’t steal the point back. Cam was looking at the ball but I know that as a tennis player you know where your opponent is in that moment.
“He will probably have a little bit of regret that he did it. But in the heat of the moment he wanted the point so badly that he lost his way a bit.
“I do think that was unnecessary personally. Novak was waiting for something a bit more (in terms of an apology). At the end, he gave him a no-look handshake.
“I wondered whether Cam would apologise again for that moment but the fact he has not apologised for it twice, then you know he meant it.”
Norrie, 27, apologised for the incident but it only added to the edge that was evident between these two racquet stars.
This fourth-round tie was supposed to start at 11am on Campo Centrale – one of the earliest starts at a tournament in recent memory for Djokovic – but it was delayed as the 35-year-old received treatment backstage with a physio.
This appeared to annoy Norrie, who at times tried to fire himself up with shouts and screams at key points.
The controversial moment left fans worried for Norrie as one tweeted: “RIP Norrie, nice knowing you.”
A second commented: “Norrie is gone guy now
Novak is furious.”
While a third added: “I don’t know how you can blame Norrie here, he’s just playing the ball. Not his fault the opponent gave up on the point.”
Norrie also took a medical timeout before the final game of the match, receiving extended treatment on his right hip.
Nonetheless, Djokovic – the defending champion in the Italian capital – prevailed in straight sets in 89 minutes with a 65th win in this event.
The pair shook hands at the end in their first meeting since the Wimbledon semi-finals but it was a frosty one to say the least.
Djokovic, who will be replaced as world No.1 by Carlos Alcaraz, will now face either Dane Holger Rune in the last eight.
Norrie will head to Lyon for the final ATP tournament before the French Open starts in Paris on Sunday May 28.