Cameron Norrie cruises through to the second round of the French Open with a victory in the straight sets


Cameron Norrie saves the LTA’s blush by becoming the ONLY singles Brit to reach the second round of the French Open after going through it with a straight-set win over American Bjorn Fratangelo

  • Cameron Norrie took a 7-5, 7-6, 6-2 win over American Bjorn Fratangelo
  • He will compete against the winner of the South African Lloyd Harris and the Italian Lorenzo Sonego
  • The 25-year-old could compete in the third round against the French Open great Rafael Nadal

It seems more and more coincidental for British tennis that Cam Norrie has always had a British passport through his parents.

For the third Grand Slam of four, he is the last player to hold the flag in singles, and at Monday’s French Open he saved the Lawn Tennis Association from further embarrassment.

Without Norrie, largely raised in New Zealand but now living in Putney, this would have been the second consecutive edition of Roland Garros without a Brit in the second round.

Cameron Norrie is having his best season yet and advances to the second round

Fortunately, amid defeats to Jo Konta and Heather Watson, he was good enough to beat American qualifier Bjorn Fratangelo 7-5 7-6 6-2 in two and a half hours. He now faces South African Lloyd Harris, and if he can get through, he will play with house money against Rafael Nadal in the last 32.

So it wasn’t as bad as October when all six Britons lost. It is true that European clay courts are not the preferred environment of most GB, but as Norrie pointed out afterwards, he never entered the sport’s best learning environment until he was 16 years old.

Last week, the LTA’s annual report revealed that it had taken £1.2 million in government leave during the pandemic to help fund some of its 328 staff during the pandemic.

That amount alone will be greater than the annual budget of some national tennis federations that match or exceed GB in the production of elite players. Thanks to Wimbledon’s insurance, there wasn’t even a dent in the usual Wimbledon presentation to the governing body over the past year.

Given the lack of tennis expertise on the LTA’s top management, the uncomfortable reality will only be highlighted by the beastly media, rather than by those running the show.

The left-handed has cemented himself as Britain's most consistent Grand Slam performer

The left-handed has cemented himself as Britain’s most consistent Grand Slam performer

With the extended absence of Andy Murray and Kyle Edmund – the latter hoping to return at the end of this summer, the former en route to return next week – Norrie and Dan Evans have done unexpectedly well on the clay.

This was Norrie’s 24th tour win of the season, and Fratangelo never seemed to have enough to break through his formidable defense or run his legs off.

The 25-year-old lefthander didn’t even feel like he had played his best game on the pitch on another glorious day in the French capital.

“On average, I don’t think I played well at all,” Norrie said. “Especially on my serve and my forehand, I was a bit hesitant at times and didn’t play at the level I had in Lyon last week.

“I would like the others to come through, but I think I will have to fly the flag of the country and just go out and play tennis. I’m not too concerned about how the others are doing.’

British number one Dan Evans suffered a shocking defeat in the first round on Sunday afternoon

British number one Dan Evans suffered a shocking defeat in the first round on Sunday afternoon

Konta and Watson, aged 30 and 29 respectively, were still the two highest-ranked players in the country. They have won five games on tour this season, while Katie Boulter, on the long way back from injury, has won three and will play in Nottingham next week.

Konta, who has burgeoning outside interests, is unlikely to reach the heights again in 2019 when she made it to the semi-finals and two quarter-finals at the Grand Slam events.

Like Watson, she led in the first set before losing 7-6 6-2 to Romanian Sorana Cirstea. A netted forehand at 3-3 in the tiebreaker with the field wide open sealed her fate.

Konta has undeniably maximized her prowess over the years, through a laser-like professionalism. She admitted that her perspectives have changed with age.

“Certainly when I was younger, it was much harder to deal with the losses than it is now,” she said. “I think I just approached them in a different way. I’ve tried to take them in in a more constructive way, that’s probably the biggest thing that changes.’

Watson, who is struggling to shake off some stubborn minor injuries, fell 7-5 6-4 to the highly beaten Zarina Diyas. Like most Brits, she kept looking forward to the greener grass at home.