CAMERON NORRIE blasted the chair umpire for an “absurd” call that saw him docked a point for GRUNTING at the French Open.
The British No.1 summoned up all his comeback qualities to knock out Benoit Paire 7-5 4-6 3-6 6-1 6-4 in three hours and 33 minutes in the first round in Paris.
Cameron Norrie was shocked at being deducted a point for grunting
French fans on Court Suzanne-Lenglen sang the national anthem and made it a cracking atmosphere – more akin to football scenes at nearby Parc des Princes – but they booed Norrie when he fist-pumped at the end.
At 30-30 in the third game of the second set, German official Nico Helwerth reprimanded Norrie for a ‘hindrance’ offence because he had GRUNTED after striking the ball.
As a result, Norrie, 27, lost that point and then bearded warrior Paire, 34, broke the serve – before going on to level up at 1-1 sets apiece.
That dodgy decision came the day after Dan Evans had moaned about a foot fault called against him in his early exit.
South African-born Norrie – who plays Frenchman Lucas Pouille on Wednesday – said: “Both of us didn’t know why he called it. We were confused. It was a grunt.
“I don’t know why he felt it was necessary to get involved there.
“Especially as he gave me no warning whatsoever and it was a big point. It ultimately changed the momentum of the match.
“I’m here playing tennis, competing as hard as I can, and then he does that, on a pretty big point.
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“Maybe if I spoke to him now he’ll think he’s wrong, but at the end of the day, I’m fighting my a*** off and one call could obviously influence the match.
“Obviously I got away with it and I was able to come through in five sets.
“For me, there is a lot to improve on. I didn’t really serve and return my best and it showed in the scoreline.”
Dejected Jack Draper said he has been left “mentally destroyed” after injury saw him quit on his Roland Garros debut.
But the Brit hopes to be fit for Wimbledon – which starts on Monday July 3 – despite the upper-arm issue that restricted his serving motion.
Draper could not serve overarm and eventually walked away after going 6-4 1-0 down to Argentine Tomas Martin Etcheverry in the first round.
The problem first happened in practice on Sunday and the 21-year-old has now retired 12 times from tennis matches across five years.
He said: “I had every intention to try to compete and play well but after the first game it was clear that it was very sore.
“I hate being the guy who’s injured a lot. It’s extremely tough, tougher than playing and losing almost. I feel a bit mentally destroyed.
“There’s no point in making this worse. I’ve obviously got to think about the grass round the corner and hope it settles down before that.
“It’s not a tear or a strain, it’s something to do with the tendon at the top of my arm.
“And if I’m trying to serve 130mph serves, the impact is just going to get more and more sore.”
Novak Djokovic began his quest for a record-breaking 23rd Slam with a 6-3 6-2 7-6 win over American Aleksandar Kovacevic. He now plays Hungarian Marton Fucsovics in round two.