Cameron Norrie shows new hard-nosed edge with victory despite French Open boos

Britain's Cameron Norrie celebrates after winning his second round match against France's Lucas Pouille - Cameron Norrie shows new hard-nosed edge with victory despite French Open boos - Reuters/Benoit Tessier
Britain's Cameron Norrie celebrates after winning his second round match against France's Lucas Pouille - Cameron Norrie shows new hard-nosed edge with victory despite French Open boos - Reuters/Benoit Tessier

By Simon Briggs in Paris

Drama continues to follow Cameron Norrie, the apparently mild-mannered British No1, who was persistently booed as he ended the French fairy tale of Lucas Pouille.

While Norrie’s 6-1, 6-3, 6-3 victory was straightforward in the end, he had to deal with a hostile crowd on Court Suzanne Lenglen, especially after a contested call over a double bounce.

The incident arrived in the middle of the third set, when Pouille tickled a deft drop-shot over the net and Norrie came racing forward to retrieve it.

Although Norrie put up a well-placed lob, Pouille paused for a moment before turning around. He was expecting a “not up” call from umpire Eva Asderaki. Neither player knew it at the time, but TV replays left little doubt that the ball had indeed touched the ground twice.

“I was pretty sure it did,” said Pouille later, before calling for footage to be consulted in such situations. “Today we have so many options to check if it bounced twice or not. It’s easy with the video. You show it on the screen, and you see straight away.”

The incident clearly riled up the crowd, and it also seemed to disrupt Pouille’s concentration. He was unable to retrieve Norrie’s spurious lob, and the emotional hangover persisted for a couple of games as he won only one of the next 10 points.

“When it happened, I didn’t [know if it had bounced twice],” Norrie told reporters later. “I saw the ball in the air, it was spinning back. I was, like: ‘Maybe there’s a chance I got it.’ Then I just watched it now, and it looks like it did bounce twice.

“But yeah, for me there was a bit of doubt there. I think it’s up to the umpire to call that, and it was right there in front of her. The other day I had one against me [when Norrie was docked a point for grunting during his first-round win over Benoit Paire], and then looks like today I had one for me. It’s a bit disappointing how it goes like that, but it is what it is. I just continue playing.”

Norrie agreed with Paire that some form of tennis Var would be useful (in fact the men’s tour have already trialled a system of this kind at their end-of-season NextGen event), but did not seem overly concerned about the aural brickbats being tossed at him by the French fans.

While Pouille was busy railing at Asderaki, Norrie simply put his head down and returned to the baseline. Here was further evidence of the hard-nosed edge that has carried him to his current position of No 13 in the world. He broke serve on the very next point.

What with the “hindrance” call on Monday over his extended grunt, and his recent disagreement with Novak Djokovic in Rome, Norrie feels as if he has switched personalities lately. After sailing through most of his career with barely a cross word, he has suddenly transformed into a walking brouhaha.

At least he is less likely to be booed during Friday’s third-round match. Having taken on successive Frenchmen in the pressure-cooker atmosphere of Court Suzanne Lenglen – one of the world’s great tennis venues – he now faces the stylish Italian Lorenzo Musetti.

To return to Pouille, he has become something of a folk hero here after his run through qualifying, as well as his achievement of being the lowest-ranked man (at No 675) to win a main-draw match at Roland Garros in a decade.

That statistic is deceptive, however. Pouille reached the world’s top 10 in 2018, before a serious elbow injury sent him spiralling into depression and alcoholism. Only now is he emerging from a dark few years.

Understandably, Pouille seemed to be feeling the after-effects of an emotional week. There were brief moments when he found the inspiration of old. He delivered some spectacular winners to break Norrie’s serve in the middle of the second set, and then again at the end of the third. But he could not sustain that level for longer than a few games at a time

Norrie, by contrast, was twice the player we saw during his erratic first-round meeting with Paire. He took control right at the start, seizing the first five games without reply, and blocking out any attempts from the fans to get under his skin.

He is a tricky opponent in in these conditions. With his heavily top-spun leftie forehand, Norrie can approximate some of the same patterns that Rafael Nadal used to win 14 titles at Roland Garros. Like a cut-price Nadal, he loves to pin his opponents in their own backhand corner with dive-bombing, high-bouncing groundstrokes.

This will be his primary tactic against Musetti, the 17th seed, whose elegant single-hander stood up to the examination when he beat Norrie in Barcelona six weeks ago. Even so, Norrie sounded optimistic about his prospects of reaching the second week here for the first time. “I think I have a pretty decent game to play him.”

06:39 PM

The winning moment for Norrie

06:36 PM

Twitter reacts

06:29 PM

Boos for Norrie

The Parisians aren’t too happy with Norrie after that double ball bounce incident in the third set.

06:24 PM

Norrie 6-1, 6-3, 6-3 Pouille* (*denotes next server)

Pouille nets a backhand return on the opening point but responds with a forehand winner, 15-15.

Wow. Pouille is swinging with abandon now and hits another forehand return winner, 15-30.

Big point coming up. And Norrie finds a first when he needed it.

Norrie forehand into the net, break point Pouille. Another timely first serve by Norrie and Pouille put his return wide, deuce.

Norrie overhead smash winner, match point. More wizardry from the Frenchman’s racket as he hits a drop shot winner that Norrie doesn’t get close to.

Norrie hits a wild forehand long, break point. It has become raucous on Lenglen. Chance for Pouille to pass Norrie at the net but he nets a forehand.

Norrie backhand volley winner, second match point. Wild Pouille forehand long. GAME SET MATCH NORRIE.

06:17 PM

Norrie* 6-1, 6-3, 5-3 Pouille (*denotes next server)

Blistering forehand winner down the line from Pouille, 15-15. Norrie sends a backhand return long, 30-15.

Pouille forehand winner, 40-15. Great cross court backhand winner from Norrie.

But Pouille closes out the game with an ace.

06:13 PM

WATCH: Norrie double bounce controversy

06:12 PM

Norrie 6-1, 6-3, 5-2 Pouille* (*denotes next server)

Pouille backhand return long, 30-15. Brilliant point from Pouille, all out attack, full control of the rally and he finishes with a backhand winner, 30-30.

Norrie sends a forehand long, break point Pouille. More aggressive tennis by Pouille to put Norrie on the back foot and he finishes with an overhead smash.

Pouille breaks. Can he make a comeback?

06:08 PM

Norrie* 6-1, 6-3, 5-1 Pouille (*denotes next server)

Pouille tells umpire Eva Asderaki-Moore: “It’s crazy. It’s crazy. It’s your only job now except saying the score.”

Pouille has gone mentally here and making errors on every point. A forehand into the net by Pouille and Norrie breaks.

06:06 PM

Latest update from Simon Briggs

What you don’t want, when you’re at the end of your fuel tank, is the umpire missing a blatant double bounce.

Maybe TV will say otherwise but live in the stadium, that looked like it should have been a not-up call against Norrie from umpire Eva Asderaki.

06:05 PM

Norrie 6-1, 6-3, 4-1 Pouille* (*denotes next server)

Ruthless service game from Norrie as he holds to 15 when Pouille sends a backhand into the tramlines.

More boos from the crowd as Norrie goes to sit down.

06:03 PM

Norrie* 6-1, 6-3, 3-1 Pouille (*denotes next server)

Series of deep backhands from Norrie and with Pouille on the back foot, he whips a forehand into the corner for a winner, 0-15.

Good first serve by Pouille and Norrie sends his return long, 30-30.

Controversial moment, Pouille thinks the ball has bounced twice and gives up the point but Norrie continues and Pouille hits a forehand long. Pouille is furious. Norrie doesn’t call it on himself. Break point Norrie.

Defensive backhand slice into the net from Pouille. Boos for Norrie as he breaks again.

05:57 PM

Norrie 6-1, 6-3, 2-1 Pouille* (*denotes next server)

Pouille has been chasing the score all match as he attempts to keep up with Norrie. He’s managing to hit some forehand winners but follows it with an error.

Norrie marches to his chair after holding serve again.

05:55 PM

Norrie* 6-1, 6-3, 1-1 Pouille (*denotes next server)

Pouille gets the fans on their feet again after drawing level in this set with a forehand winner. He will need a lot more support if he’s to stage an improbable comeback.

05:51 PM

Third Set: Norrie 6-1, 6-3, 1-0 Pouille* (*denotes next server)

Ideal start by Norrie to a must win set for Pouille.

The Briton holds to love and he continues to take the air out of the spectators on Lenglen.

05:49 PM

Latest update from Simon Briggs

And now it’s gone flat again in Suzanne Lenglen. My reading is that Pouille is knackered after three qualifying matches and an emotional first-round win. He has barely played matches in the last season or three.

He burned most of his gas in a mini-purple patch in the middle of the set and now he is looking hollowed out.

05:47 PM

Norrie* 6-1, 6-3 Pouille (*denotes next server)

Magical tennis from Norrie to lift a delicate lob over Pouille, three set points.

Pouille saves the first when Norrie sends a forehand return long. Norrie then sends a backhand long, 30-40.

But after 41 minutes Norrie gets the job done when Pouille puts a forehand into the tramlines.

Norrie breaks Pouille to win second set.

05:43 PM

Norrie 6-1, 5-3 Pouille* (*denotes next server)

Ideal service game for Norrie as he races to 40-0. And the Briton holds with a backhand winner into the open court.

Norrie has quietened the crowd again.

05:40 PM

Norrie* 6-1, 4-3 Pouille (*denotes next server)

Brave second serve by Pouille and Norrie shanks a return long, 40-15. Better and deeper return by Norrie into the corner and Pouille can’t get the ball back in play, 40-30.

Pouille doesn’t do enough with a forehand and the short is punished when Norrie sends a forehand down the line for a winner.

Pouille drags a forehand into the tramlines, break point. Pouille keeps his cool at the net and finishes with a backhand volley winner.

Another arching forehand by Norrie draws a backhand error from Pouille, second break point.

Pouille hits a weak drop shot, Norrie reaches it easily and puts away a forehand winner.

Norrie breaks.

05:34 PM

Latest update from Simon Briggs

Suddenly La Pouille has found something. The break back was a phenomenal game, he swung so hard at his groundstrokes that he almost corkscrewed himself into the clay.

Game on

05:33 PM

Norrie 6-1, 3-3 Pouille* (*denotes next server)

Lovely little lob winner from Pouille to start the game. Good anticipation at the net from Pouille and he finishes with a volley winner, 15-30. Pouille is sensing an opportunity here.

Great depth from Norrie and Pouille sends a forehand long, 30-30. And Norrie prevents another break with a good serve that Pouille can’t get back into play.

Cameron Norrie vs Lucas Pouille live: French Open 2023 latest updates - Getty Images /Clive Mason
Cameron Norrie vs Lucas Pouille live: French Open 2023 latest updates - Getty Images /Clive Mason

05:29 PM

Norrie* 6-1, 2-3 Pouille (*denotes next server)

Better from Norrie as he forces Pouille to go long with a forehand, 15-30. But Norrie pushes a forehand long to hand Pouille a chance to lead in this set, 40-30.

And the crowd roars with delight as Norrie sends a backhand long and Pouille holds. Good fightback from the Frenchman.

05:25 PM

Latest update from Simon Briggs

Suzanne Lenglen is more comfortable for the players than it might have been a year ago. There are giant roof rails casting a shadow over the whole surface.

Mind you, Norrie - who is a physical beast - might have preferred a tougher workout in the afternoon sun.

05:24 PM

Norrie 6-1, 2-2 Pouille* (*denotes next server)

Cat and mouse rally between the players but Pouille then slices a backhand long, 15-0. Good response by Pouille to hit a forehand return winner, 15-15.

That’s more like it from Pouille as he steps in and whips a forehand winner past Norrie. Third forehand winner for the game from Pouille, who is suddenly igniting. Two break points.

Brilliant low slice by Pouille forces Norrie off the baseline and he curls a forehand long.

Pouille breaks!

05:19 PM

Norrie* 6-1, 2-1 Pouille (*denotes next server)

Norrie misses with an overhead smash, 15-0. Missed chance to make a strong start to the game.

Pouille delights the French crowd by holding serve when Norrie nets a forehand return.

05:16 PM

Norrie 6-1, 2-0 Pouille* (*denotes next server)

Loose service game from Norrie sees him slip to 0-40 and offer Pouille a lifeline.

Norrie saves the first with an ace. Then the second when Pouille sends a backhand way out of court. Norrie with a brilliance backhand back behind Pouille, who was moving to his right.

Another break point for Pouille after Norrie sends a wild forehand into the tramlines. But Pouille squanders it again when he shanks a backhand long.

Norrie survives that scare to consolidate the break. Could be a crucial hold for the Briton.

05:10 PM

Latest update from Simon Briggs

The home fans aren’t demoralised by that one-sided first set. Norrie getting another round of boos as he walks out for the start of the second. Plus, there’s a brass band in the house.

05:10 PM

Second Set: Norrie* 6-1, 1-0 Pouille (*denotes next server)

Norrie is pouncing on anything short from Pouille and punishing him. Break point Norrie after whipping a forehand into the corner.

There has been no let up in Norrie’s intensity and he breaks again as he rushes Pouille with a deep forehand and the Frenchman nets a forehand.

Norrie breaks.

Cameron Norrie vs Lucas Pouille live: French Open 2023 latest updates - Getty Images/Emmanuel Dunand
Cameron Norrie vs Lucas Pouille live: French Open 2023 latest updates - Getty Images/Emmanuel Dunand

05:04 PM

Norrie 6-1 Pouille* (*denotes next server)

Norrie moves serenely to three set points. And he takes the opening set when he drills a forehand down the line and Pouille can’t get the ball back in play.

Norrie must have a dinner reservation in Paris with the way he’s playing!

05:01 PM

Norrie* 5-1 Pouille (*denotes next server)

Pouille forehand hits the net cord but the ball drops on his side of the court, 15-30. He responds with a forehand winner after stepping in on a short ball, 30-30.

But another double fault makes it 30-40. Norrie forehand return long, he will be annoyed by that miss.

Not enough first serves in for Pouille but he finds a much needed ace to win his first game of the match and denies Norrie what we call a bagel in the tennis industry.

04:54 PM

Norrie 5-0 Pouille* (*denotes next server)

One way traffic at the moment. An ace makes it 30-0. He then loses his first point on serve when his forehand hits the net cord and flies out.

Pouille backs it up with his best shot of the match - a backhand return winner down the down, 30-30.

But Norrie eventually holds with a forehand winner. Only 15 minutes gone and the Briton leads 5-0.

04:52 PM

Norrie* 4-0 Pouille (*denotes next server)

Norrie is on fire at the moment. He steps in and cracks an angled cross court backhand away for a winner, 15-15.

Back-to-back forehand errors by Pouille gives Norrie two more break points. Pouille saves the first when Norrie nets a forehand but not the second.

Pouille runs around his backhand to hit a forehand but doesn’t do enough and that allows Norrie to hit a forehand winner into the open space.

Norrie breaks again.

04:46 PM

Norrie 3-0 Pouille* (*denotes next server)

Pouille is yet to get going in the match so far. Norrie doing an excellent job of subduing the French crowd.

Pouille nets a backhand to allow Norrie to move to 40-0. And he finishes off the game with a blistering forehand winner.

04:44 PM

Norrie* 2-0 Pouille (*denotes next server)

First point on the board for Pouille after Norrie sends a backhand long and he gets a big ovation from the crowd, 15-15.

Crisp hitting from both men before Norrie whips a forehand winner down the line, 30-30. Brilliant shot.

Norrie hits a clean backhand return and rushes Pouille into an error, break point.

Double fault by Pouille and Norrie breaks.

04:40 PM

First Set: Cameron Norrie 1-0 Lucas Pouille* (*denotes next server)

There is a brass band and a drum on Suzanne Lenglen but Norrie quietens them down by holding to love.

04:35 PM

Here we go!

Both players come onto court. Pouille gets a rousing reception while Norrie is booed on.

The French fans are something else!

04:34 PM

It's nearly time

Cameron Norrie vs Lucas Pouille live: French Open 2023 latest updates - Getty Images/Frey
Cameron Norrie vs Lucas Pouille live: French Open 2023 latest updates - Getty Images/Frey

04:31 PM

Busy day at Roland Garros

World No 2Aryna Sabalenka fought off a determined challenge from fellow Belarusian Iryna Shymanovich on Wednesday to move into the third round with a 7-5, 6-2 victory.

Stefanos Tsitsipas enjoyed an incident-free path into the third round with a win over Roberto Carballes Baena.

Anna Blinkova dashed French hopes with a stunning 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 win over fifth seed Caroline Garcia, finally wrapping up the thrilling contest on her ninth match point.

Former champion Jelena Ostapenko had not made second week at Roland Garros in her last five appearances and the 2017 winner’s disappointing run continued as unseeded American Peyton Stearns prevailed 6-3, 1-6, 6-2.

04:21 PM

Norrie back in action

Hello and welcome to coverage from the French Open as British No 1 Cameron resumes his campaign in Paris against Lucas Pouille.

Norrie needed five sets to beat Benoit Paire on Monday and he faces another Frenchman today. Norrie has struggled for form over the past couple of months but will be hoping to gain more confidence with a strong performance.

He can expect a similar partisan atmosphere when he takes on Pouille, who has been the toast of Roland Garros this week after coming through qualifying following injury and personal problems.

But Norrie relishes such occasions, saying: “I think it’s great to play those matches in grand slams against home favourites, and I think that’s why I play tennis. That’s why I love those moments. To be on the flip side of that is difficult at times. I think the crowd can be tough at times, but I keep reminding myself it’s good to be playing, that I want to be out there competing and being in those tough moments when the crowd is against me.

“It makes it even better to come through those matches, so it was really cool to play on that court and against Benoit, who was competing really hard and also he came with a good level today. I didn’t play my best, and there’s a lot of the things I want to work on in practice tomorrow, but it’s good to get through it and nice to win a five-set match.”

Pouille was ranked in the top 10 in 2018 but an elbow injury the following year began a downward spiral, with Pouille battling depression and turning to alcohol. He did not play any matches in the second half of last year but returned to the circuit in January and came through qualifying here before winning his first grand slam match since 2019.

Pouille has been roared on by the French crowd and led them in a rendition of the Marseillaise on court following his first-round win.

”It’s really special,” said Pouille, who beat Norrie at Roland Garros back in 2018.

”That’s why also I think I took another 30 minutes on court to sign all the autographs, take all the pictures, because we finished pretty late and the court was still packed, and they were cheering me from the first point to the last one. The energy was just incredible. It was so many good emotions.”