Novak Djokovic explains why opponent Cameron Norrie ‘deserves’ ATP Finals alternate debut

Australian Open: Cameron Norrie reflects on round two win

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Novak Djokovic has slammed claims Cameron Norrie got “lucky” to make his Nitto ATP Finals debut as the second alternate. The Brit was drafted in to play in the remaining Green Group round-robin matches on Wednesday (November 17) in place of Stefanos Tsitsipas, who was forced to withdraw with an elbow injury. Norrie will face Casper Ruud on Wednesday evening, and the world No 1 on Fruday (November 19).

Djokovic has already secured his place as the winner of the Green Group, following his 6-3 6-2 victory over Andrey Rublev on Wednesday.

It was the first meeting between the world No 1 and the young Russian, after they both won their respective round-robin matches over Casper Ruud and Stefanos Tsitsipas on Monday.

The Serb’s victory helped him qualify for a 10th semi-final appearance at the season-ending championships, but will still face Norrie in the final round-robin match on Friday.

Norrie got a last-minute spot into the draw as the second alternate when Tsitsipas withdrew ahead of his second group match against Ruud.

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The Greek retired from his opening match at the recent Paris Masters with an arm injury, leaving many wondering whether he would recover in time for the year-end finals.

He played his first match against Rublev, with the Russian defeating him 6-4 6-4, and pulled out of the tournament citing his elbow injury two days later, ahead of his clash wish Ruud.

It comes a day after world No 7 Matteo Berrettini was forced to withdraw after picking up a left oblique injury during his first match against Alexander Zverev, which he retired from when getting injured early in the second set.

It meant his countryman Jannik Sinner entered the tournament as the first alternate, winning his first match against Hubert Hurkacz on Tuesday (November 16).

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Now, the second alternate has entered the tournament for the first time since 1998, and Norrie is guaranteed to face group-winner Djokovic on Friday.

Speaking about the Brit’s last-minute debut at the season-ending championships, the five-time champion was quick to throw praise behind Norrie and said he “deserved” to be playing in Turin.

“Great, great. Why not?” the Serb laughed when speaking about his last-minute change in opponent for his final round-robin match.

“I always like playing new players, particularly on one of the greatest tournaments in the world here in Turin.

“Cameron deserved to be here. I mean obviously as a second alternate but still, it’s not undeserved.”

While some believe the world No 12’s debut at the ATP Finals comes with luck, thanks to the withdrawals of both Berrettini and Tsitsipas, Djokovic pointed out that Norrie earned his place even as the second alternate thanks to his successful season, which saw him win the biggest title of his career at the Indian Wells Masters 1000 last month.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion continued: “He was not lucky.

“He really worked his way to Turin with great wins in Indian Wells and some other tournaments and just played on a very high level so it will be fun to watch him tonight against Ruud and I’ll get ready for the next one.”
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