‘Good Sensations’: Norrie Makes Winning Start In Lyon
The World No. 11 broke Cerundolo's serve twice in each set to complete a one-hour, 40-minute win at a tournament where he reached the championship match in 2021, before falling to Stefanos Tsitsipas. Having also made the semi-finals on debut in 2018, Norrie is hoping to maintain the feel-good factor as he hunts another deep run in France.
“It’s great to be here in Lyon,” said Norrie after extending his winning record at the event to 8-3. “I feel really good here, such a simple tournament and the people that come out to watch are really passionate about tennis, they love it.“[I had] good sensations and I really enjoyed the match for the most part. Francisco is a tricky player with a really good forehand, so I had to watch out for that. There were some nerves there in the second set, [when I was] up a break, and I kind of gave it away a little bit. I was able to break again, and he gave me a couple of loose points towards the end, so I will take those and move on.”
Baez is on a strong run of form on the European clay. He claimed a maiden tour-level title in Estoril in April and qualified for the Internazionali BNL d'Italia in Rome last week, reaching the second round before falling to Alexander Zverev at the ATP Masters 1000 event.
The Argentine was in trouble on his Lyon debut, however. World No. 60 Otte took the first set in the pair’s maiden ATP Head2Head meeting, but Baez broke twice in each of the second and third sets to complete a one-hour, 57-minute win and reach his fourth tour-level quarter-final of the year.
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Norrie is prepared for a stern test from Baez when the pair meets for their first tour-level meeting in Lyon. The Argentine’s recent success has not taken the Briton by surprise.
“He [Baez] is having a great year, and I really liked his game when I was in Argentina doing a pre-season many years ago, so it’s nice to see him come on and it’s going to be tough,” said Norrie. “He’s won a title on the clay already this year in Estoril and he’s really enjoying his tennis. I practised with him the other day and he’s hitting the ball big off both sides, so it’s going to be a tough one.”
Fourth seed Alex de Minaur also enjoyed a successful main-draw debut in Lyon, bouncing back from losing a one-sided first set to home favourite Ugo Humbert in a 1-6, 6-3, 6-2 win. De Minaur has shown solid form in recent weeks on the European clay, reaching the semi-finals in Barcelona in April and the third round in Rome last week, but the 23-year-old Australian is chasing a maiden title on the red dirt.
The first round was rounded out in Lyon on Tuesday, as qualifier Manuel Guinard claimed his maiden tour-level win with a 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-2 upset of World No. 68 Hugo Gaston. He next faces Michael Mmoh, while Federico Coria booked a second round clash with Pablo Carreno Busta by downing Daniel Altmaier, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.