Defending champion Novak Djokovic reached his 17th consecutive Italian Open quarter-final with a tight win over British No. 1 Cameron Norrie.
The Serb, who will be replaced as world number one by Carlos Alcaraz next week, won 6-3 6-4 in Rome.
Tensions grew in the second set when Norrie headbutted the ankle of Djokovic, who had given up scoring.
Djokovic next faces seventh seed Holger Rooney or qualifier Alexei Popirin.
The Serb’s preparations for the French Open have been interrupted by injury, but he is recovering in time for his 23rd Grand Slam singles title, which begins on May 28.
After delaying the start of the game by a few minutes in the treatment room, Djokovic then took a 3-0 lead without hesitation – not even being held back by an early collision with the clock next to the court.
While Norrie slowed Djokovic’s attack with a few hits and saved three set points — one of which was a backhand serve return — Djokovic ended the first set When playing, he couldn’t do anything about the fourth inning.
The Brit went down early in the second period, then went down immediately — but in controversial fashion.
Djokovic has given up on that when he hits high enough to allow Norrie an open field to put the ball in, and when Norrie drives to Djokovic’s left ankle, he turns away up.
Norrie said a curt “sorry” and held up his hand in apology, earning whistles from the crowd and a huge glare from a clearly irritated Djokovic.
The weather was cooler and the atmosphere on the court was even colder. Djokovic continued to break serve with a score of 5-4.
Asked to wait at the start of the game, it was Nori’s turn to make Djokovic wait as he received treatment for his hip on the court while the Serb prepared to serve for the match.
Djokovic didn’t let the delay disrupt his rhythm as he sealed the victory on second match point and continued his bid for a seventh Italian Open title with a tense handshake and no words at the net.
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