TWELVE months after a native Glaswegian reached the Roland Garros semi-finals, the British challenge in the men’s singles at this fortnight’s French Open will be headed up by two young men brought into the world within six months of each other in Johannesburg, South Africa. Andy Murray has never quite been the same since straining his hip going down to Stan Wawrinka in that five-set 2017 semi-final but the good news for Britain Davis Cup captain Leon Smith is that for once somes appear ready to take the strain.

Cam Norrie might ultimately have come up short yesterday in his attempt to reach his first ATP Tour final - going down to home favourite Gilles Simon on Lyon by a 6-1, 7-6 scoreline - but the biggest win of his career, against towering World No 10 John Isner, was a further indication of this Kilted Kiwi’s clay court potential, even if it is a surface on which he has rarely played. A citizen of the world who was South Africa, raised in New Zealand, then developed in the US collegiate system at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas, both of Norrie’s parents hail from Britain, with his father David – who still has immediate family in both Glasgow and Aberdeen – intensely proud of his Scottish roots.

Then there is Kyle Edmund, who moved to Yorkshire at the age of three but has progressed through the LTA system efficiently enough that he goes into the tournament as No 16 seed. Since taking the tennis world by storm when reaching the Australian Open semi-finals, Edmund has already collected the scalps of Novak Djokovic, David Goffin and Lucas Pouille during this clay court season. Regardless of a tricky opener against talented Australian youngster Alex de Minaur, he seems a decent bet for a strong run at a tournament where he reached the third round last year.

“People will write about the South African thing a lot, but these guys are British,” Smith told Herald Sport last night. “Cam is proud of his Scottish roots and you only need to hear Cam’s dad David speak to know he is Scottish! Kyle did all his training in the UK, at Bisham Abbey and the NTC at Roehampton, so he has proved that there is a pathway there if you want it enough. Just as Cam is proving that it is possible if you go to US college and you aren’t ready to turn pro when you are 17, 18 years old. What is great is that they are 22 and 23 years old. It is good to have two guys like this from Britain who can play on clay, unusual to find two guys like that who are really comfortable on it.”

Norrie, whose biggest win prior to this week came from two sets down against Roberto Bautista-Agut on Davis Cup duty, has broken into the world’s top 100 players in a hurry. While he still goes in as an underdog against Peter Gojowczyk of Germany, he is a dangerous one. “In the last 12 to 18 months, you have to say it is a remarkable rise,” says Smith. “Any win like that against a top 10 opponent when you are 85 and just new on the scene is a remarkable result. I watched Cam on Tennis TV yesterday and I thought he looked so composed, very smart, a very good match player. It is an unbelievable result, a big upset, and these are really good signs that he can mix it with that level of player on a clay court. Because if you think about it, he has still not played that much on a clay court at all. The big thing when you adapt is moving on the surface, learning about sliding, changes of direction. He is a terrific young guy to spend time with, he has a good personality and backs himself, that is really important, when you are entering that scene. That confidence probably comes from playing so many matches in college tennis and winning so many of them. The good thing is that he has avoided a seed and he has bags of confidence. To know that he can go five sets like that match in Spain will give him a lot of confidence.

Then there is Kyle, of whom it can no longer be said that he merely possesses one of the best forehands in world tennis. “There are so many good qualities for his game, although the main thing that stands out is that forehand, the amount of spin and rip he can put on the ball,” said Smith. “The conditions change a lot over the course of two weeks out in Paris. There are these hot, dry days when the ball is just jumping up on the dusty clay, and even if it is heavier conditions there is enough pace on it to get through the court. It is one of the best forehands in world tennis, that is the bottom line. But it is not just about the forehand. That is why he is 17 in the world and moving up.”

Hope then, even if another episode of Rafa Nadal’s dominance seems likely. “He is the best clay courter in the world and having the best clay court season, he has to be the favourite,” says Smith.