It was the first meeting between Djokovic and the world No 5, and the Serb needed just over an hour to secure a 6-3 6-2 victory.
Speaking about his final round-robin opponent, Norrie, in a post-match interview, the world No 1 said the Brit “deserved” to be playing in Turin, and was happy to face another player for the first time in his career, so soon after the Rublev clash.
“Great, great. Why not?” the Serb laughed when speaking about his last-minute change in opponent for Friday’s group-stage 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.”
The 20-time Grand Slam champion also dismissed the idea that the British No 1 got “lucky” to make his debut at the year-end finals following the withdrawals of Berrettini and Tsitsipas.
Djokovic added: “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.”