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Norrie draws hothead Kyrgios at French Open

 

French connection: British No.2 Cameron Norrie
French connection: British No.2 Cameron Norrie

By Eleanor Crooks

Cameron Norrie gained the headline-grabbing draw among the British players at the French Open with a first-round tie against Nick Kyrgios.

It will be the Australian's first match since being defaulted from his second-round clash with Casper Ruud at the Italian Open in Rome on May 16 after throwing a chair across the court.

That came a day after Kyrgios said he "could not stand" Novak Djokovic and branded Rafael Nadal "super salty" in an appearance on the No Challenges Remaining podcast.

Kyrgios also caused a stir this week after saying the French Open "sucks" compared to Wimbledon as he practised with Andy Murray at the All England Club.

Norrie can put further pressure on Kyle Edmund for the British No.1 spot when the tournament starts on Sunday.

Edmund reached the third round here during a superb 2018, but 2019 has been hugely disappointing so far, and the 24-year-old goes into his first-round clash with Frenchman Jeremy Chardy trying to snap a five-match losing streak.

Britain's third male representative, Dan Evans, faces a major battle to win his first match at Roland Garros after drawing the in-form 23rd-seed Fernando Verdasco.

There was confusion on the women's side at the presence in the draw of British No.3 Katie Boulter, who had previously been ruled out of the entire clay-court season with a back injury.

It is thought Boulter is not intending to play but she is yet to officially withdraw and was paired with 23rd-seed Donna Vekic in the draw.

Boulter could potentially be in line to receive half of the first-round prize money of 46,000 euros (approximately £40,000) should she pull out before her match, although she would need to be on site in Paris to qualify.

British No.1 Johanna Konta drew a qualifier as she looks to build on her superb run to the final in Rome last weekend.

That was particularly timely as it earned her a place among the 32 seeds in Paris as the World No.26.

Konta had previously demonstrated little form on clay and has never won a main-draw match at Roland Garros.

She could face fourth-seed Kiki Bertens, whom she beat in the semi-finals in Rome, in round three.

Britain could yet have another main-draw entrant, with Katie Swan due to play her final qualifier on Friday against Slovakia's Kristina Kucova.

The 20-year-old followed up her victory over second qualifying seed Jil Teichmann on Wednesday by coming from 5-3 down in the deciding set to beat Wang Xiyu 6-4 0-6 7-5.

There was heartbreak, though, for Heather Watson, who served for victory in the third set against Greek Valentini Grammatikopoulou and held two match points, only to lose 7-5 6-7 (6) 7-6 (3).

Back in the main draw, Roger Federer will play his first match at Roland Garros since 2015 against Italy's Lorenzo Sonego.

Federer is in the same half of the draw as second-seed Rafael Nadal, who begins his bid for a 12th title against a qualifier.

Top-seed Novak Djokovic, who is aiming to win four Grand Slam titles in a row for the second time, takes on Poland's Hubert Hurkacz in the other half.

Women's top seed Naomi Osaka is also aiming to continue her Slam streak after winning in New York and Melbourne but faces a tough path.

The 21-year-old meets Slovakia's Anna-Karolina Schmeidlova in the first round but would then face the winner of the clash between Victoria Azarenka and former champion Jelena Ostapenko.

Serena Williams is also in the same section and will face Russia's Vitalia Diatchenko provided she has overcome a left-knee problem, while defending champion Simona Halep meets Australian Ajla Tomljanovic.

Three lucky losers are guaranteed to make the main draw following the withdrawals of Camila Giorgi, Tomas Berdych and Milos Raonic.

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