May 31, 2018 / 2:03 PM / 2 months ago

Tennis: Pouille leads French charge into Roland Garros third round

PARIS (Reuters) - French number one Lucas Pouille put down a spirited comeback by unseeded Briton Cameron Norrie on Thursday to lead home hopes going into the third round at Roland Garros.

Tennis - French Open - Roland Garros, Paris, France - May 31, 2018 France's Lucas Pouille celebrates after winning his second round match against Britain's Cameron Norrie REUTERS/Charles Platiau

France has waited 35 years since Yannick Noah lifted the Musketeers Cup for one of its own to win the men’s championship at Roland Garros.

While that wait will almost certainly continue this year barring a major upset, Pouille leads a group dreaming the unlikely that includes Richard Gasquet, Gilles Simon, Gael Monfils.

Pouille looked tight throughout the match, making 49 unforced errors and barely getting half his first serves in on his way to a 6-2 6-4 5-7 7-6(3) victory.

“I started much better today than yesterday and the first round, Pouille told a news conference. “It’s still not perfect, but the more you move on in the tournament, the better you play. I hope that I’ll play better tennis tomorrow.”

Tennis - French Open - Roland Garros, Paris, France - May 31, 2018 France's Lucas Pouille shakes hands with Britain's Cameron Norrie after winning their second round match REUTERS/Charles Platiau

He faces Russia’s Karen Khachanov, ranked 38th in the world, on Friday.

Asked if playing the Norrie match over two days would disrupt his preparations, Pouille said: “Physically, it doesn’t disrupt much. It’s just ... your nerves, because you have extra tension (on a match day). The stress builds up.”

Richard Gasquet, seeded 27th, eased past Tunisia’s Malek Jaziri 6-2 3-6 6-3 6-0, dominating with his first serve and leading his opponent into making 40 forced errors, more than double his own count.

Gasquet reached the third round for the eighth straight year. Next up is tournament favorite Rafael Nadal - and harbors few illusions.

“Unless there is a disaster, he has a good chance of winning,” Gasquet told reporters. “He’s extraordinary. We all know he is.”

In the women’s tournament, wildcard Pauline Parmentier downed French compatriot and 32nd seed Alize Cornet in a three-hour marathon 6-7 6-4 6-2.

Parmentier too faces tough odds in the third round against number two seed Caroline Wozniacki, who dropped just one game against big-serving Spanish qualifier Georgina Garcia Perez.

Reporting by Richard Lough, editing by Ed Osmond

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