Novak Djokovic’s straight-sets victory over Cameron Norrie in the Italian Open boiled over when the British tennis star hit the leg of the world number 1 with a smash.
The incident occurred early in the second set and despite an immediate apology from Norrie, Djokovic did not react properly and stared down at his opponent.
Djokovic’s gaze went on and on as he headed for the net before verbally refuting the British No. 1.
“Maybe you can say he didn’t hit me intentionally,” Djokovic told reporters after his 6-3 6-4 win in the round of 16.
‘I don’t know if he saw me. I mean… you can always see where the player is on the pitch.”
Djokovic added that he was not entirely enamored with Norrie’s behavior in general during the match.
“Maybe it wasn’t so much about that, but maybe it was a combination of things,” said 35-year-old Djokovic.
“He did all the things that we are allowed to do. He may take a medical time-out. He may hit a player. He gets to say ‘come on’ to his face more or less every point from the first game.
“Those are the things that we players know in the dressing room is not fair play, it’s not how we treat each other. But again, it’s allowed.”
However, Djokovic didn’t let his misfortune with Norrie affect his form on the pitch as he slowly made his way to the quarter-finals of the Italian Open.
“He brought the fire, and I responded to that. I will not allow someone who behaves like this to just bow my head. I will respond to that,” added the 22-time grand slam winner.
“I got along really well with Cameron all the years he’s been on tour. practiced together. He’s a really nice guy off the pitch so I don’t understand this kind of attitude on the pitch to be honest.”
Norrie’s representative did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment.