A relentless Rafa Nadal cruised into the last 16 of the French Open for the 16th time on Saturday, with a brutal 6-3 6-3 6-3 dismantling of Briton Cameron Norrie.
Nadal, who won his 13th title at Roland Garros last year, extended his run at the claycourt Grand Slam to an unbelievable 30 sets won in a row. He last dropped a set against Dominic Thiem in the 2019 final.
Norrie, the world number 45, battled gamely against the third seed, even breaking Nadal twice in the second set, but the ruthless Spaniard reeled him back in on both occasions, before serving out the one-sided contest a shade over two hours.
Nadal sent down 35 winners, including three aces, and broke Norrie’s serve six times in the match as he stormed into round four, where he will battle Italy’s Jannik Sinner, the 18th seed, for a place in the quarter-finals.
Jannik Sinner awaits
NADAL WINS 6-3, 6-3, 6-3
After just over the two-hour mark, Nadal gets past Norrie in straight sets –6-3, 6-3, 6-3.
To be fair to Norrie, the scoreline doesn’t do him much justice. The 25-year-old more than held his own, especially in sets one and two, but Nadal was just too strong.
Despite hitting 29 unforced errors, the 13-time champion was just too strong in the end.
Nadal* 6-3, 6-3, 5-3 Norrie (*denotes next server)
Good hold from Norrie who saved match point to force Nadal to serve it out.
Great to see the crowd get behind the Brit.
Nadal 6-3, 6-3, 5-2 Norrie* (*denotes next server)
From 0-30 down, Nadal holds!
Norrie was threatening to creep his way back into proceedings but the Spaniard, with his insane speed and incredible shot-making, comes through. A game away now!
Nadal* 6-3, 6-3, 4-2 Norrie (*denotes next server)
Norrie saves a break point and holds to extend this third set.
Good response from the British No 2, who despite the scoreline is staying positive out there!
Nadal 6-3, 6-3, 4-1 Norrie* (*denotes next server)
Nadal consolidates the break and edges further ahead.
The Spaniard has hit fewer errors in this third set and looks to be motoring along now.
What’s Norrie got now?
Nadal* 6-3, 6-3, 3-1 Norrie (*denotes next server)
Norrie blinks first as he’s broken in set three.
First serve went missing for Brit and Nadal pounced in Nadal-like fashion. 3-1 Nadal!
Nadal 6-3, 6-3, 2-1 Norrie* (*denotes next server)
No sign of exchanging breaks in set three as Nadal holds to love in one of the quickest games of the match so far at a minute and 37 seconds.
Nadal* 6-3, 6-3, 1-1 Norrie (*denotes next server)
Norrie levels up. Lot of focus on getting first serves in as he fires through to get on the board.
Nadal 6-3, 6-3, 1-0 Norrie* (*denotes next server)
Comfortable enough hold for Nadal to get things underway in this third set.
Norrie isn’t giving up the fight though, which is good to see. The Brit’s still chasing down every ball. Very important service game coming up for him.
Second set Nadal 6-3
Nadal, with a stunning cross-court backhand on the slide, breaks again and takes the second set by the same scoreline as the first – 6-3!
Both men playing some high quality stuff on Court Suzanne-Lenglen.
Nadal* 6-3, 5-3 Norrie (*denotes next server)
Game, Nadal! After conceding the opening point, the Spaniard holds to 15.
Norrie will serve to keep this set alive.
Nadal 6-3, 4-3 Norrie* (*denotes next server)
Nadal breaks! Dug out a ridiculous lob at 15-30 and again at 30-30 to bring up break point which he duly took.
Momentum with the Spaniard now as he goes ahead in set two for the first time.
More dialogue with the umpire, this time from Nadal.
Nadal* 6-3, 3-3 Norrie (*denotes next server)
We’re back on level terms in set two as Nadal holds to 15.
His best service game in some time by a long way. A bit of pressure on Norrie now who must hold here.
Nadal 6-3, 2-3 Norrie* (*denotes next server)
Nadal breaks back! It’s like nobody wants to hold serve in this second set.
We’re back on serve again. It’s only a matter of time until Nadal draws level in this set you feel. There’s definitely tension between both men out there which is making this a really good contest.
That epic 21-shot rally
Nadal* 6-3, 1-3 Norrie (*denotes next server)
Norrie breaks again and in superb fashion with a blistering 107mph forehand winner!
Nadal 6-3, 1-2 Norrie* (*denotes next server)
Nadal breaks back!
A typical response really from Nadal who finished the game with a devestating forehand cross court.
Norrie having a word with the umpire about being held up when serving.
Nadal* 6-3, 0-2 Norrie (*denotes next server)
More lengthy exchanges from the back of the court and to Norrie’s credit he’s stayed with Nadal who seems to be quite tight right now.
Nadal 6-3, 0-1 Norrie* (*denotes next server)
Good hold Norrie hold who came out on top after a 21-shot rally early on.
The Brit was having some issues with his ball toss in that which will be something to keep an eye on as this one progresses.
First set Nadal 6-3
After 36 minutes, the Spaniard wraps up the first set with a pretty emphatic love hold!
Comfortable first set for the 13-time champion, who hit 13 winners to Norries five. Nadal registered 11 unforced errors though and will look to clean that up in set two.
Nadal* 5-3 Norrie (*denotes next server)
Norrie, serving with new balls, holds to love.
Was made to cover a lot of ground in that game, but was reading the patterns of play nicely. Good hold!
Nadal 5-2 Norrie* (*denotes next server)
Good hold from Nadal who looks in control of this first set.
Forehand working wonderfully so far for Nadal. Norrie hasn’t done much wrong, but the Spaniard on clay is a different force.
Nadal* 4-2 Norrie (*denotes next server)
Nadal makes his move! Breaks to 30 as he forces the Brit to make an error.
Nadal* 4-2 Norrie (*denotes next server)
Alarm bells for Norrie as Nadal moves into a 0-30 lead- with the first of those two points won courtesy of a delicious drop shot.
A huge top-spinning forehand from Nadal forces Norrie to go wide with a forehand and the Spaniard has the first break points of the match.
Norrie saves two but then swipes a forehand into the net and Nadal has the first break of the match.
Nadal 3-2 Norrie* (*denotes next server)
Quick and easy from the Spaniard who wins this one to love.
Nadal pushes Norrie wide on the Briton’s backhand side before easing a forehand winner across court to win the game.
Nadal* 2-2 Norrie (*denotes next server)
Good start from Norrie. He eases into a 40-15 lead but is pegged back to deuce as Nadal drags him this way and that before thrashing two winners.
But Norrie does well himself to win the next two points by forcing a couple of errors from Nadal.
Nadal 2-1 Norrie* (*denotes next server)
Routine service game for the 13-time French Open champion who wins it courtesy of a superb line-grazing forehand. Lovely stuff.
Nadal* 1-1 Norrie (*denotes next server)
Nadal in a slight bit of trouble in the first game of the match at 0-30 but he powers through with four straight points to hold.
But Norrie then does well to hold in his first service game – including winning a long rally to go 30-15 up where he moved Nadal from side to side and forced the Spaniard to go long with a forehand.
Decent start from the British No 2.
Spotlight on Norrie
Norrie is obviously the clear underdog but his awkward style can cause problems for Nadal as Simon Briggs examines in this piece here, as comparing the Brit to a Roman Gladiator. Yes. you read correctly.
The players have been waiting patiently after Kenin v Pegula went to a third and deciding set on Court Suzanne Lenglen. But with that match now done and dusted, it’s nearly time for Cameron Norrie and Rafael Nadal to take centre stage.
Last Briton standing
Hello and welcome to coverage of Cameron Norrie’s third-round clash with 13-time French Open champ Rafael Nadal.
This is their third overall meeting and second on clay this year. The Spaniard leads their head-to-head 2-0 and has won in straight sets on each occasion.
Norrie’s been in the form of his life this season and has put together some impressive results on the red clay. He reached the final in Estoril, Portugal and Lyon, France — two ATP 250s — and secured some big wins in the process including a victory over the current US Open champion Dominic Thiem, his biggest to date.
In Paris the British No 2 beat American qualifier Bjorn Fantangelo in round one and Lloyd Harris of South Africa in the second round. He has dropped just one set so far and is looking forward to his next assignment against Nadal.
“Both times I played Rafa, it just elevated my game and proved to myself that I can compete with him,” said Norrie in his pre-tournament press conference. “When the rallies are so physical with such a great athlete like Rafa, I’m gonna raise my level.”
Read Simon Briggs’ preview where he’s turned Norrie into a specific kind of gladiator.
Nadal’s run to the third round has been pretty smooth. The third-seeded Spaniard got dispatched the young Australian Alexei Popyrin in the first round and in round two took out longtime
However he remains wary of the threat posed by Norrie at Roland Garros.
“He’s a great player,” said Nadal, who has not dropped a set in his first two matches. “He’s winning plenty of matches this year. Every week he’s making good results, winning against very good players.
“I know it’s going to be a tough one. I need to be ready to play my best. I know he has a style of game that is not easy to play against. I need to play well.”