The 25-year-old was the last Brit standing at Roland Garros after recovering from an early deficit to beat South Africa’s Lloyd Harris in four sets on Thursday, following up his first-round victory over American qualifier Bjorn Fratangelo.
However, the odds were heavily stacked against Norrie in Saturday’s daunting clash with ‘King of Clay’ Nadal, a record 13-time French Open champion who has still only ever lost two matches on the red dust in Paris.
He duly fell in straight sets, with the Spaniard powering his way to a 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 triumph in just over two hours that tees up a fourth-round clash with Italian teenager Jannik Sinner, whom he beat in last year’s quarter-finals in the latest ever finish at Roland Garros.
It was the third time already this year that Nadal has beaten Norrie, who reached two recent clay-court ATP Finals in Lyon and Estoril, having also won in straight sets at the Australian Open and Barcelona Open.
Also on day seven in Paris, Novak Djokovic cruised through to round four with a straight-sets win over Ricardas Berankis of Lithuania.
The world no1 and 18-time Grand Slam winner won 6-1, 6-4, 6-1 on Court Philippe Chatrier and, like Nadal, will also face teenage opposition from Italy next in the shape of Lorenzo Musetti, who upset 13th seed David Goffin in round one.
Musetti is playing in the main draw at a Grand Slam for the first time.
In an absorbing late-night tussle on Saturday, Roger Federer joined ‘Big Three’ rivals Djokovic and Nadal in the fourth round as he overcame a spirited effort from Germany’s Dominik Koepfer in four sets.
Defending women’s champion Iga Swiatek eliminated Anett Kontaveit, though Elina Svitolina became the latest high seed (5) to fall as she lost to world no 33 Barbora Krejcikova.
Teenager Coco Gauff went through after an injury to Jennifer Brady, while Sofia Kenin defeated Jessica Pegula in another all-American contest and Sloane Stephens overcame Karolina Muchova.
Also through at Roland Garros are Diego Schwartzman, Jan-Lennard Struff, Maria Sakkari, Ons Jabeur, Marta Kostyuk and Matteo Berrettini.