Cameron Norrie, who has made the third round at both the US Open last years and Australian Open in February, is set to possibly repeat those runs at Roland Garros following his opening win on Monday.
You always have doubts here and there and being the favourite, obviously wanting to maintain the level I have been playing in the other matches, especially in a slam. I was a little bit nervous before the match Cameron Norrie
Having seen Dan Evans exit on Sunday, Norrie is now the only Briton left in the men’s and women’s draws as Jo Konta and Heather Watson both failed in their opening rounds of the women’s event as well.
For Norrie the win continues his excellent form on clay this season as he secured his 7-5 7-6(5) 6-2 victory over American qualifier Bjorn Fratangelo.
“I guess I’m going to have to lead the nation and just go out and play my tennis. I’m not really worrying about how the others are doing too much. I know we’ve got a lot of Brits in the doubles, so that’s exciting,” Norrie commented after his win.
Norrie could meet the 13-time champion Rafa Nadal in the third round and expectations are high as he has reached ATP Tour Finals in Estoril and Lyon and scored a win over Dominic Thiem.
He faces next Lloyd Harris of South Africa, who upset the 26th seed Lorenzo Sonego of Italy 7-5 6-4 6-4.
Fratangelo made Norrie work hard for the first set, in which the players exchanged early breaks of serve before Norrie seized the first of two set points.
The British No2, ranked 45 in world terms, then took control with a 4-1 lead in the second, but he was pegged back to 4-4 by a stubborn opponent before prevailing in a topsy-turvy tie-break.
The American refused to go quietly, breaking back at the start of the third and saving three match points before Norrie wrapped up victory with an ace.
Reflecting on that opening match, Norrie said: “On the big points, I came up with some good stuff and I think that stems from the matches I’ve played earlier in the clay season, taking a lot of confidence from that, but on average I don’t think I played well at all, especially on my serve and my forehand. I was a little bit tentative at times.
“You always have doubts here and there and being the favourite, obviously wanting to maintain the level I have been playing in the other matches, especially in a slam. I was a little bit nervous before the match.
“I think my worst level has risen a lot. In previous years, I wouldn’t have come through as easily today. I was happy with how I competed today more than anything else.”
It was Norrie’s 24th win of the season and he is currently third on the number of matches won this year behind Stefanos Tsitsipas and Andrey Rublev.