Most players are grateful for an opponent’s early retirement but Cameron Norrie admitted to disappointment here on Monday when Germany’s Peter Gojowczyk threw in the towel in their first-round match at the French Open when trailing 6-1, 2-0.
“I would love to have kept playing,” Norrie said after Gojowczyk pulled out with a groin problem. “I was feeling really good out there, confident.
“I think 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.”
The 22-year-old Briton’s second victory in a Grand Slam tournament, which earned a second-round meeting with France’s Lucas Pouille, the No 15 seed, bore a striking resemblance to his first, when Dmitry Tursunov retired injured after two sets at last year’s US Open. Today’s victory also came on the day when Norrie broke into the world’s top 100 for the first time.
Both Norrie and Gojowczyk were making their debuts in the main draw here but both had arrived in good form. Norrie played in his first tour semi-final in Lyon last week, which took him to a career-high No 85 in today’s updated world rankings list, while Gojowczyk climbed to a career-best position of No 43 after playing in his first tour final in Geneva on Saturday.
The opening rally suggested that neither man would need time to find their feet. With both striking the ball confidently, Norrie won a 15-stroke exchange with a backhand winner down the line. After holding serve to 30, Norrie broke serve at the first attempt, converting his first break point with a forehand winner.
Norrie was hitting the ball beautifully and Gojowczyk had to save three break points in the fourth game. In the sixth game Norrie broke again and after just 24 minutes the Briton had the first set in the bag.
After lengthy treatment Gojowczyk resumed, but he was moving with difficulty and appeared to have particular trouble serving. A double fault took him to 0-40 in the opening game of the second set and a missed forehand gave Norrie another break. Two games later he quit when trailing 15-40.
“He was hitting the ball big and hitting well,” Norrie said afterwards when asked when he had first noticed that Gojowczyk had a problem.
“I didn’t really see anything. I was playing great. I was in the zone. I was serving really well. It didn’t look like anything was bothering him too much, but I think at the start of the second set on his serve and then a little bit on his movement, I wrong-footed him a couple times.”
Norrie added: “If he had been winning that match I don’t think there’s any chance he would have been retiring. I outplayed him throughout.”
Norrie, who has already guaranteed himself prize money of 79,000 euros (more than £69,000), admitted that he had been nervous going into his first match in the main draw here, but said: “I managed it well. I think in these five-set matches, I just wanted to try to manage my energy as best as I can.
“It’s nice to kind of have a little bit of a shorter match today. I know it’s going to be tough against Pouille and it’s going to be real physical. Nice to save the energy for that.And I’m sure I’ll be a little bit nervous. I’ll be on a big court. But I’m really looking forward to it, and it’s just another great experience.
“I love being the underdog and all the pressure is on him. So it’s going to be a battle and hopefully I’ll come out on top.But it’s going to be a good challenge for me.”
He added: “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.I’ll be feeling fresh and ready for play on Wednesday.”
Norrie was asked if he had had time to look at the world rankings to confirm his new position. “I did,” he said. “I saw it. Inside the top 100, two digits. I’m happy, but the thing about tennis is that you always want more. You get to 85 and you want to be top 50.”
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