Novak Djokovic advances to the quarter-finals of the Italian Open 2023 after defeating Cameron Norrie.
Novak Djokovic advanced to his 17th consecutive Italian Open quarter-final with a tight victory over British number one Cameron Norrie.
The 35-year-old Serb won 6-3, 6-4 in Rome, and will be replaced as world number one by Carlos Alcaraz next week.
The tension in a tense match intensified in the second set when Norrie slammed an overhead into Djokovic’s ankle, who had already conceded the point.
In the last eight, Djokovic will face Holger Rune of Denmark, the seventh seed.
Injury has hampered the Serb’s preparation for the French Open, but he is regaining form in time for his pursuit for a 23rd Grand Slam singles title, which begins on May 28.
Djokovic raced to a 3-0 lead after delaying the start of the match for a few minutes in the treatment room. He wasn’t even slowed by an early contact with the clock at the side of the court.
While Norrie slowed Djokovic’s assault with a couple of holds and saved three set points, one with a rocketing backhand service return, he couldn’t stop Djokovic from taking the first set.
The 27-year-old British player was broken early in the second set and then quickly broke back – albeit in questionable fashion.
Djokovic had already conceded the point when he blasted high, leaving Norrie with an open court to play the ball into, and was walking away with his back turned when Norrie smashed into Djokovic’s left ankle.
Norrie murmured a brief “sorry” and lifted his hand in apologies, drawing whistles from the audience and a stern look from a visibly enraged Djokovic.
Djokovic went on to break to love for 5-4 with the temperatures cool and the mood on court much colder.