Cameron Norrie loses the Lyon final to Stefanos Tsitsipas but gives hope for a good Roland-Garros
Two of this season’s surprise clay packages have been British – first Dan Evans, who raced deep in Monte Carlo, and more recently Cameron Norrie, who made his second final in three weeks on Sunday. Unfortunately, Norrie was unable to win a first ATP title in Lyon. But then he faced Stefanos Tsitsipas, who was the dominant force in 2021 outside of the slams, and now ranks No.1 in the table for most ranking points earned since January 1. Nonetheless, it had been an extremely laudable effort for Norrie. to go that far, especially considering he knocked out seed Dominic Thiem on Thursday and then beat Russian Karen Khachanov in Saturday’s semi-finals, losing just two games in the process. Norrie arrived on clay at the end of his career, but it feels like it is becoming his favorite surface. He has one of the heaviest left-handed forehands in the game, loaded with spin, and uses it as a miniature version of Rafael Nadal. The result has been a total of 14 wins and just four losses since he started his European clay swing in Barcelona. So while the French Open, which starts next Sunday, has traditionally been a graveyard of British hopes, there is reason to hope that this year’s event could yield more positive results. Norrie’s previous final at Estoril had been a grueling affair which he ultimately lost in a decisive tie-break to more experienced Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas. Sunday was easier for Tsitsipas, who only needed 69 minutes to clinch a 6-3, 6-3 victory. It was Tsitsipas’ second title in the clay streak, having won Monte Carlo in mid-April, knocking out Evans in the semi-finals along the way. He has become a serious contender to upset the establishment – especially Nadal and Novak Djokovic – at Roland Garros over the next few weeks. “I felt great from the start of the tournament,” Tsitsipas said afterwards. “I’m proud of today’s game, I knew it would be tough against Cameron, who has shown great tennis this week. He won against good players and showed what the left hand can do on clay. “It was not an easy game today. I had to deal with the nerves and I’m proud of my performance and the way I stayed focused on my goal. As for this year’s results, Evans and Norrie are among the top 20 most successful men in the world. Evans is at No. 16 and Norrie at No. 14. The next challenge for both of them is to convert that ATP Tour form into a deep one-major run.