GB’s Norrie reaches Lyon Open semis but Draper out
British number one Cameron Norrie reached his third successive semi-final at the clay-court Lyon Open but compatriot Jack Draper was knocked out.
Defending champion Norrie regained focus after a mid-match slump to beat sixth seed Sebastian Baez 6-2 2-6 6-1.
“I tried to reset and come out with a lot of energy,” Norrie said.
The 27-year-old now faces Argentine fourth seed Francisco Cerundolo, who came back from a set and a break down to beat Draper 4-6 6-4 6-3.
Norrie’s progress in Lyon is a boost for British hopes on clay before the start of the French Open on Sunday, with a much-reduced contingent from the nation competing at the Grand Slam.
This was Norrie’s 13th win in 14 matches in Lyon, having reached the final in 2021 before claiming the title last year.
In a repeat of last year’s quarter-final, when Norrie also dropped the second set to Argentina’s Baez, the Briton got off to a quick start on Thursday, winning the first three games to take control of the first set.
But he was broken at the start of the second and again for 5-2 before Baez put behind him the distraction of a nosebleed to serve out the set. Norrie then raced through the third set, sealing victory on his first match point with an unreturnable serve that put him into his fourth Lyon semi-final.
“It was a solid match,” Norrie said in his on-court interview. “It’s the perfect kind of match I need before the French Open to get a lot of long points in the legs, running a lot and having to defend a lot.”
Norrie’s continuation of his success at the venue provides a timely confidence boost after early exits on clay in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Madrid in recent weeks, and a tetchy encounter with Serbia’s Novak Djokovic in an Italian Open last-16 defeat last week.
Norrie will be leading the British challenge at the French Open, but is now one of only three from the nation to be in the main singles draw after Kyle Edmund withdrew on Thursday with a wrist injury.
Norrie is joined by Dan Evans and Draper in the main draw for the men’s singles at Roland Garros, but there are no British women in the singles for the first time since 2009.
The trio discovered their first-round opponents in Thursday’s draw, with Norrie starting against France’s Benoit Paire, Evans playing Australia’s Thanasi Kokkinakis, and Draper taking on Argentina’s Tomas Martin Etcheverry.