By Ros Satar, at Roland Garros
- Cameron Norrie v Elliot Benchetrit
- Dan Evans v Fernando Verdasco
PARIS, FRANCE – On the final day of first round action at Roland Garros, Cameron Norrie and Dan Evans will start their campaigns at the second Slam of the year.
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Cameron Norrie v Elliot Benchetrit | First meeting
Arguably the British No. 2 Cameron Norrie had a better bunch of outings on the dirt this year than the more expected Kyle Edmund. While the British No. 1 came into Paris on a five-match losing spree, Norrie’s form dipped up and down with his best run Monte Carlo where he reached the third round, and a decent series of wins through Rome qualifying with a main draw win in the lead up to Roland Garros.
Last year advanced via retirement to a solid encounter against Lucas Pouille, taking a set off the Frenchman on his own… dirt! Indeed, Norrie caught a break (of sorts) when Nick Kyrgios pulled out of the French Open, citing illness (sick of clay, perhaps!) and into his place comes French qualifier Elliot Benchetrit. The obvious home-crowd favourite has mainly been getting his court time on at the Challenger level with just Marrakech as tour-level experience but failing to get out of qualifying.
That being said, he has had three matches here and will have a degree of confidence, but his results have been quite variable, and even though Norrie might have sandwiched his wins with opening losses this season he has a lot more experience at this level.
Norrie just needs to play with consistency – has beaten a few solid clay-courters this season and he really ought to count on advancing fairly comfortably.
Prediction: Norrie in straight sets.
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Dan Evans v Fernando Verdasco | First meeting
Dan Evans has been mixing it up with the best recently, invited to train for a few days with Roger Federer, and will be facing a bit of a resurgent Fernando Verdasco whose exponential progress through tournaments leading up to the French Open is pleasingly sequential.
The Spaniard may not have started well with two early exits in a row, but picked up first one win (Barcelona), then two (Madrid) before a bit of a tear through Rome, losing to eventual winner Rafael Nadal (so we might just let him off).
Evans has never been a particular fan of the dirt, but he at least picked up a couple of wins in Rome qualifying before heading here. While Verdasco is a tricky leftie and can be a thorn in the side at the best of times, he is likely to be just a little too solid for Evans on this surface.
Prediction; Verdasco in three sets.
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