Novak Djokovic celebrates Serbia's WC qualification
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Cameron Norrie is looking forward to the tough test of facing Novak Djokovic for the first time in his career. The Brit came into the Nitto ATP Finals field as a second alternate, taking the place of Stefanos Tsitsipas who was forced to withdraw from the tournament with an elbow injury. He now faces the world No 1 in the final Green Group round-robin match, though with Djokovic having already won the group and Norrie already out, the pair will play a dead rubber.
Norrie has enjoyed the best season of his career, reaching 50 match wins, winning the ‘fifth Grand Slam’ in Indian Wells, and achieving a career-high ranking of world No 12.
The 26-year-old narrowly missed out on a qualification spot in the Nitto ATP Finals, but went to Turin as the second alternate behind Jannik Sinner.
The young Italian was later drafted in to replace his countryman Matteo Berrettini, who withdrew from the event two days after picking up an injury during his first group match against Alexander Zverev, forcing him to retire while a set down.
Then, on Wednesday (November 17), Norrie was called in to take the place of world No 4 Stefanos Tsitsipas in the Green Group, who withdrew with an elbow injury that also saw him retire mid-match at the recent Paris Masters.
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The Brit faced world No 8 Casper Ruud in the second of the group round-robin matches later that day, making his ATP Finals debut.
After getting off to a strong start, he was then narrowly defeated by the six-time ATP Tour title winner 6-1 3-6 4-6, knocking him out of the group stage and leaving him unable to make it to the semi-finals.
Norrie will now face Djokovic for the first time in his career for the final round-robin match of the week on Friday evening (November 19).
Although it will be a dead rubber, the 26-year-old has shared his excitement for getting to face the 20-time Major champion for the first time in his career.
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“I can’t wait,” the British No 1 said, speaking on his day off on Thursday (November 18).
“I have never played Novak before or practised with him, so it is a first for me. I am looking forward to it.
“I watched him today and he is firing and really feeling the ball well. He is really good in these conditions. It is quite quick, the court.
“It is going to be difficult, but I am looking forward to it. I am going to see if I belong and can compete with a guy like that.”
The recent Indian Wells champion also reflected on his match against Ruud, coming away from the clash feeling positive despite suffering defeat.
He added: “I enjoyed every second out there and I was feeling good in practice and was ready to play and compete. I came out firing and loved the match. It just came down to a couple games in the second and third sets. I was really happy with my level.
“It was one of the biggest matches for my career, so I just tried to learn from Indian Wells and take from that the experience, the emotions, playing big matches and playing well under the pressure there. It has been a lot of fun playing at this level and playing at this level all year.
“I was really happy with how I handled the match and how I approached it. I was basically out there playing for free as the second alternate. I had nothing to lose and I came out firing. All credit to Casper, that is the best I have ever seen him serve.”
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