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Novak Djokovic rival Cameron Norrie drags up beef at French Open: ‘Never seen that’

Britain’s top-ranked player Cameron Norrie has gone on the attack and put Novak Djokovic in his crosshairs.

The war of words between the pair was reignited when Norrie slammed the Serbian star for failing to apologize after their recent run-in.

Djokovic toppled Norrie during their Round of 16 encounter earlier this month at the Italian Open, but barbs were traded during the match.

Djokovic, ranked third in the world, was furious with his counterpart after being hit on the leg by an overhead smash from the Brit player.

As they came together at the net a frosty handshake unfolded as Djokovic’s anger took hold and saw him unload during his press conference.

“From the very beginning, he was doing all the things that were allowed,” Djokovic said.

“He’s allowed to take a medical timeout. He’s allowed to hit a player. He’s allowed to say ‘C’mon’ in the face more or less every single point from basically the first game. 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.”

Novak Djokovic hits a backhand during his first-round win at the 2023 French Open.

As both men now prepare for second round encounters at the French Open, Norrie decided it was time to reignite the feud.

The world No. 13 returned fire at the 22-time Grand Slam winner saying the superstar bends the rules to his own advantage.

“He wanted some more time on the physio bed and the match was scheduled for 11am,” Norrie said. “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 apologized. I asked: ‘Was that OK to do that?’. They [the officials] said: ‘Yeah, it is within the rules’. After 15 minutes, he gets defaulted. I said: ‘OK’, 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.

Cameron Norrie and Novak Djokovic have a frosty handshake after Italian Open match.
AFP via Getty Images

“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.”

Despite drawing the ire of the Serbian with his overhead smash, Norrie said he apologized straight away.

“I apologized straight away and I didn’t see him. I looked up and hit the ball down low,” he said. “I didn’t see him turn and concede the point.”

Djokovic courted controversy following his first-round victory with a message written on the lens of the TV camera as he walked off court.

“Kosovo is the heart of Serbia. Stop violence,” Djokovic wrote as the message was displayed on the big screen.

Novak Djokovic at the French Open
Getty Images

The message infuriated the country which declared independence from Serbia in 2008.

Djokovic and Norrie are both in the top half of the draw and could potentially face each other in the semifinals.