By Ros Satar, in Paris
- Cameron Norrie def. Peter Gojowczyk 6-1 2-0 RET
- His second main -draw Slam win comes via retirement as he jokes he would like to win one
- Faces 15th seed Lucas Pouille in the second round
PARIS, FRANCE – Day Two at Roland Garros brought with it a first British win of this year’s tournament as Cameron Norrie made a winning start to his French Open debut.
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Cameron Norrie def. Peter Gojowczyk 6-1 2-0 RET
Apart from literally a handful of British Futures level clay court tournaments five years ago, Cameron Norrie cut his teeth mainly on hard courts with a smattering of grass by comparison.
With an injury depleted team to take to the first round of the Davis Cup World Group Round 1 match against Spain, Leon Smith put Norrie in the frame, and it was a decision well made as he stunned the (then) World No. 23 Roberto Bautista Agut, coming from two sets down to put Great Britain on the board in the tie.
Following the US hard court spring swing, the European clay courts were not really yielding much jot with a win here, a win there until he hit Lyon, where the run to the semi-final, including taking out No. 2 seed John Isner, catapulted Norrie into the Top 100 for the first time (he is at a career high of 85).
In fairness to his struggling opponent today, Germany’s Peter Gojowczyk also had a busy week, losing in the Geneva final before heading to Roland Garros.
There were nerves, the Brit admitted, with his parents having travelled from New Zealand to watch him, but they did not show as he swiftly opened a 3-0 lead. Another break put Norrie completely in the driving seat as he served out the first set to love.
With Gojowczyk being manipulated on the ground for a hip/groin injury, it felt inevitable that the German would not be able to stay with Norrie long if he kept up that level. An immediate break to love, and the German pulled the ripcord 30/40 down on Norrie’s service game.
In some ways, Norrie might have preferred a little longer out on court, although that might be more a measure of youthful exuberance – he is, at his own admission, pretty inexperienced at this level.
He said, after the match: “I would love to keep playing, actually. I was feeling really good out there, confident.
“At the U.S. Open, I got my first win with a retirement as well, so it would be nice actually to win a match, but I’ll take it. Yeah, I’ll be feeling fresh and ready for play on Wednesday.
“I think that that was the best tennis I have played in my life. I think I was in the zone and not making any unforced errors, being the one dictating play. He’s obviously made a final last week.”
Norrie v Lucas Pouille 
His Davis Cup heroics might actually serve him well when it comes to playing another Latin country with their enthusiastic fans, facing France’s Lucas Pouille on home turf (or rather, dirt).
Norrie continued: I love being the underdog and all the pressure is on him. So it’s going to be a battle and hopefully, come out on top. It’s going to be a good challenge for me.”
In Pouille he will face a player who might not have surged to the top of the public consciousness like his other contemporaries, such as Nick Kygrios or Alexander Zverev, but he has been pretty consistent to earn his spot in the Top 20.
He has the French flair about his play, executing his shots with fluid ease and a little less of the irrationality that sometimes plagues his equally flair-some compatriots (are you listening, Gael Monfils).
He might prefer his forehand, but his backhand is one of the toughest shots to break down, and yet one of his flaws is it maybe is not as aggressive a shot as it could be – and that could play into Norrie’s hands.
He spoke about wanting to be the one to dictate play, and so maybe avoiding giving Pouille the chance to pack a punch will serve the young Brit well. There is no doubt he will rise to the challenge, and we have seen the French players buckle before under the weight of their nation’s expectation.
Prediction: Pouille in four sets.
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