British number one Cameron Norrie reached his third consecutive semi-final at the Lyon Open on clay, but his compatriot Jack Draper was knocked out.
Defending champion Norrie regained his focus after a mid-match breakdown, beating sixth seed Sebastian Baez 6-2 2-6 6-1.
“I was trying to reset myself and come out with a lot of energy,” said Norrie.
The 27-year-old will now face fourth-seeded Argentine Francisco Cerundolo, who came back from a set and crunch to beat Draper 4-6 6-4 6-3.
Norrie’s progress in Lyon is a boost to Britain’s clay hopes ahead of the start of the French Open on Sunday, with a significantly reduced contingent from the country competing in the Grand Slam.
It was Norrie’s 13th win in 14 games for Lyon, having reached the final in 2021. winning the title last year.
In a replay of last year’s quarter-final, when Norrie also lost the second set to Baez of Argentina, the Briton got off to a quick start on Thursday, winning the first three matches and taking control of the first set.
But he was broken early in the second and again at 5-2 before Baez put down a nosebleed distraction behind him to serve a set. Norrie then raced into the third set, sealing victory in his first match match with a no-return serve that secured Lyon’s fourth semi-final.
“It was a solid match,” Norrie said in his on-court interview. “It’s the perfect type of match I need ahead of the French Open to score a lot of long leg points, run a lot and defend a lot.”
Norri’s continued success in the stadium provided a quick boost to his confidence after early clay knockouts in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Madrid in recent weeks and a touchy clash with Serbia’s Novak Djokovic in last week’s Italian Open round of 16 match.
Norrie will be leading the British challenge at the French Open but is now one of only three from the country to take part in the singles main draw after Kyle Edmund withdrew on Thursday with a wrist injury.
Norri is joined by Dan Evans and Draper in the men’s singles main draw at Roland Garros, but they are no British women in singles for the first time since 2009
The trio revealed their opponents in the first round thursday draw, Norrie will face Benoit Paire of France, Evans of Australia’s Thanasi Kokkinakis and Draper will face Tomas Martin Etcheverry of Argentina.