Cameron Norrie ‘sorry to take another Frenchman out’ at French Open
Cameron Norrie reached the third round of the French Open for the third year in a row with a comfortable win over home hope Lucas Pouille.
Ranked down at 675 after injury and personal problems, Pouille was bidding to make the last 32 at a slam for the first time since Wimbledon in 2019, but Norrie was too strong in a 6-1, 6-3, 6-3 victory.
The 14th seed wore strapping under his left knee and will no doubt be relieved to have avoided the drama of his raucous five-set duel with another Frenchman, Benoit Paire, in the first round.
The Suzanne Lenglen crowd were not as much of a factor this time, although there was another moment of umpiring controversy, this time in Norrie’s favour, in the third set.
Pouille was convinced Norrie, who was bizarrely penalised for a hindrance shout against Paire, had not got to a ball before it bounced twice but the British player did not stop play and umpire Eva Asderaki-Moore sided with him.
Pouille complained – and was shown to be correct by TV replays – amid booing from the crowd, and the French player lost four games in a row to move to the brink of defeat.
He roused himself for a late stand, breaking Norrie when he served for the match at 5-1 and having two opportunities to get back on serve, but the British number one took his second match point before a final round of booing from the crowd.
Norrie said: “All credit to Lucas, it’s great to see Lucas back and enjoying his tennis. It was a tough battle, tough to get over the line. Thank you to everyone, great atmosphere. Sorry to take another Frenchman out but hopefully you can support me in the next one.”
Norrie may feel tempted to take to the stage in the off-season given the practice he has now had at being a pantomime villain.
Booed onto court, the partisan home crowd light-heartedly jeered his shots during the warm-up while cheering those of Pouille.
The support had played a big part in inspiring Paire and Norrie appeared determined not to let the same thing happen, imposing his game straight away and looking significantly sharper than he had on Monday.
Pouille, who looked very nervous, won only six points in the first five games and, although he saved a set point to avoid the dreaded bagel, Norrie wrapped up the set in less than half an hour.
Pouille briefly became a top-10 player back in 2018 before reaching the Australian Open semi-finals the following year.
The umpire failed to spot a double bounce in Cam Norrie’s match against Lucas Pouille 👀 pic.twitter.com/pFWgnD1ZXq
— Eurosport (@eurosport) May 31, 2023
Elbow issues triggered a downward spiral that led to depression and a problem with alcohol, and he took time out of the game last year before returning at the start of this season.
A run through qualifying made him the toast of Roland Garros and he led fans in a rendition of the Marseillaise after winning his first-round match.
The 29-year-old swiftly found himself 2-0 down in the second set as well but raised home hopes by winning three games in a row and applying some real pressure to Norrie.
The British No 1 did well to nip Pouille’s comeback in the bud before things got complicated, and can look forward to trying to make the last 16 here for the first time.
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