The 22-year-old British No 3 did not even bother watching the tournament this time last year, but he now faces the prospect of taking on French 15th seed Lucas Pouille on one of the Paris showcourts tomorrow.
Norrie, who only played his first professional match on clay in February, was leading 6-1 2-0 when first-round opponent Peter Gojowczyk retired injured.
Nevertheless, Norrie had looked assured and in complete control before Gojowczyk, the world No 43 from Germany, called it quits.
“I didn’t see it coming, not at all,” said Norrie. “He was hitting the ball big and hitting well. It didn’t look like anything was bothering him too much.
“But I think start of the second set on his serve and then a little bit on his movement, I wrong-footed him a couple times.
“I was playing great. I was serving really well. I think that that was the best tennis I have played in my life. I think I was in the zone and not making any unforced errors, being the one dictating play.
“I think if he’s winning that match there’s no chance he’s retiring. So I think I outplayed him throughout, and it was unfortunate for him to pick up an injury.
“I would love to have kept playing, actually. I was feeling really good out there.
“At the US Open I got my first win with a retirement as well, so it would be nice actually to win a match, but I’ll take it.”
Norrie, whose ranking had jumped to 85 yesterday, roared through the first set in just 25 minutes, finishing the job with a booming ace.
During the changeover, Gojowczyk requested lengthy treatment for what appeared to be a hip injury.
Norrie immediately broke again to love with his opponent clearly not moving freely and – once another forehand whizzed past him – the German decided he could not continue.
Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic made their entrances at Roland Garros yesterday, but both found themselves upstaged by a lucky loser.
Argentinian Marco Trungelliti, beaten in French Open qualifying last week, was back home in Barcelona on Sunday when, after a spate of withdrawals, he got the call to replace injured Nick Kyrgios.
The 28-year-old had his family – mother Suzanna, brother Andre and grandmother Daphne – staying with him, and within five minutes Trungelliti had packed them all into his car to embark on a 10-hour, 1,000km drive in order to be in Paris in time to sign in.
It was worth the trip as Trungelliti, ranked 190 in the world, beat former top-20 star Bernard Tomic to net a cool £69,000 – almost treble what he had earned over the rest of the year.
Trungelliti, who arrived in Paris just before midnight, was on court for an 11am start after just a quick warm-up and ran out a 6-4 5-7 6-4 6-4 winner.
Nadal, looking for an 11th title on the famous clay, was two sets to the good, but a break down in the third to Italian Simone Bolelli, himself a lucky loser, when the rain brought the players off.
Djokovic, the champion in 2016, eased through after a straight-sets win over Brazil’s Rogerio Dutra Silva, 6-3 6-4 6-4.
Another former Paris winner, Stan Wawrinka, bowed out after a three-and-a-half-hour marathon against Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 2-6 6-3 4-6 7-6 (7/5) 6-3.
Women’s second seed Caroline Wozniacki cruised into round two with a straight-sets win over Danielle Collins, 7-6 (7/2) 6-1.
Eighth seed Petra Kvitova dropped the first set against Paraguay’s Veronica Cepede Royg, but the two-time Wimbledon champion won a two-hour marathon 3-6 6-1 7-5.
There was a high-profile casualty, though. Former world No 1 Victoria Azarenka, a 2013 semi-finalist, lost 7-5 7-5 to 22-year-old Czech Katerina Siniakova.
Latvia’s Anastasija Sevastova, seeded 20th, also failed to make it through round one as she tumbled out 4-6 6-1 6-3 to Colombian qualifier Mariana Duque-Marino.
Maria Sharapova’s belated return to the tournament was delayed by the weather.
Last year the two-time champion in Paris had recently returned from a 15-month doping ban, but had not built her ranking high enough to qualify and was not offered a wild card.
But 12 months later Sharapova is back in the world’s top 30 and seeded 28. However, her first-round match with Richel Hogenkamp of Holland was held back until today with light rain falling and the light failing.