The 22-year-old British number three did not even bother watching the tournament this time last year, but he now faces the prospect of taking on French 15th seed Lucas Pouille on one of the Paris showcourts on Wednesday.
Norrie, who only played his first professional match on clay in February, was leading 6-1 2-0 when first-round opponent Peter Gojowczyk retired injured.
Nevertheless, Norrie had looked assured and in complete control before Gojowczyk, the world number 43 from Germany, called it quits.
“I didn’t see it coming, not at all,” said Norrie. “He was hitting the ball big and hitting well. It didn’t look like anything was bothering him too much.
“But I think start of the second set on his serve and then a little bit on his movement, I wrong-footed him a couple times.
“I was playing great. I was serving really well. 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.
“And I think if he’s winning that match, there’s no chance he’s retiring. So I think I outplayed him throughout, and it was unfortunate for him to pick up an injury.
“I would love to have kept playing, actually. I was feeling really good out there.
“At the US 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.”
Norrie, whose ranking had jumped to 85 on Monday morning, roared through the first set in just 25 minutes, finishing the job with a booming ace.
During the changeover, Gojowczyk requested lengthy treatment for what appeared to be a hip injury.
Norrie immediately broke again to love with his opponent clearly not moving freely and - once another forehand whizzed past him - the German decided he could not continue.
“It’s nice to have a little bit of a shorter match,” added Norrie. “And I know it’s going to be tough against Pouille so it’s nice to save the energy for that.
“This time last year I didn’t even come here and I didn’t really follow it at all. I headed straight to London and just got ready for the grass.
“But thinking about this time last year, I’m psyched to be ranked 85 in the world and in the second round of the French Open, that’s for sure.”