Battling Cameron Norrie lives to fight another day

Britain's Cameron Norrie in action against Lucas Pouille. Picture: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images
Britain's Cameron Norrie in action against Lucas Pouille. Picture: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images
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He may have been feeling ill, he may have been playing in near darkness but Cameron Norrie was hanging on to his place in the French Open for dear life.

As darkness fell over Roland Garros last night and play was suspended, Norrie was trailing Lucas Pouille, the world No 16 from France, by two sets to one but he was fighting back. After one hour and 47 minutes and at 9:42pm local time, the Scot had worked his way back into contention even if the Frenchman led 6-2, 6-4, 5-7. Today, refreshed from a good night’s sleep, Norrie has every chance to reach the third round of a major championship for the first time.

Such a comeback had looked all but impossible just an hour before after Norrie had made a miserable start to the match. His stumbling, error-strewn performance at first looked to be just a bad case of nerves – this was his first appearance on a grand slam centre court and this was a huge opportunity, after all. Compared to the composed, focused and consistent player who had looked so impressive two days before in the opening round, this 
Norrie was unrecognisable.

It took fully 20 minutes before he found his bearings and held serve but that only made the first set score slightly more respectable – he was 5-2 down at that point. Still, it was a start.

Once the world No 85 and soon-to-be British No 2 had lowered his pulse rate and got a feel for the size of the stadium, Pouille was made to work for his points.

The first set, all 25 minutes of it, was consigned to history and now Norrie was fighting for all he was worth. One break point was erased with an ace but, alas, a third, was donated with a Norrie forehand leathered into the net.

Two games later, the Scot called for the trainer who gave him some pills to settle his stomach but that slightly sick feeling would not go away as the second set slipped from his grasp.

The doctor’s medicine slowly began to kick in and it was Norrie who took the early lead in the third set. Then again, four breaks of serve in the first six games did little to settle the nerves but still Norrie kept his nose in front and as Pouille’s final forehand sailed long and into the gloom, the chair umpire suspended play. Norrie lived to fight another day.