2021 Australian Open semi-finalist Aslan Karatsev, who quietly enjoyed a resurgence in Madrid this past month, is among the top-ranked players currently vying for a main draw berth at this year’s French Open, kicking off on Sunday. As for the women, Camila Osorio vs. Mirra Andreeva is a compelling final round clash while Tamara Zidansek is also in the qualifying competition.
French Open qualifying already in full swing
- Aslan Karatsev will play 25-year-old American Nicolas Moreno De Alboran on Friday morning for a first-round berth, after world no. 187 recovered from a set down to beat Australia’s Aleksandar Vukic earlier today
- He is the top seed on the men’s side, and won in straight-sets vs. Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nick Hardt in consecutive days. Germany’s Yannick Hanfmann – who made his first Masters 1000 quarter-final – is #2 seed
- As for the women, Colombia’s Camila Osorio is the top seed and faces another Madrid success story in 16-year-old Russian Mirra Andreeva after straight-set wins over Polina Kudermetova and Emiliana Arango
Aslan Karatsev is aware that his poor Parisian form needs addressing, but he first must avoid defeat against an unknown quantity on Friday to get there.
More than 100 ranking spots separate the two players, but De Alboran will be encouraged by reaching the semi-finals in an Oeiras challenger event last week.
He beat Federico Delbonis, Steve Johnson and Pedro Cachín to reach that stage – an experienced trio who all recorded lofty career-highs during previous seasons.
At a time where the likes of Tim van Rijthoven, Enzo Couacaud and Elias Ymer hover outside the world’s top 150, there’s no reason why he shouldn’t back himself against a player as unpredictable as Karatsev – who has made two semi-finals this year.
Elias will play the second seed, Germany’s Yannick Hanfmann, after a 7-5, 6-3 win over Australia’s Marc Polmans. Meanwhile his younger brother Mikael, was disqualified from his Lyon last-16 matchup against Arthur Fils for this:
Brit watch: A rough day for all concerned
Biel challenger finalist Liam Broady couldn’t recover from a set down in two consecutive matches and ultimately lost a painful three-setter (6-4, 0-6, 6-3) against 21-year-old American Emilio Nava, having briefly levelled the score with a bagel set.
Nava saved a break point chance to go 3-2 up in the decider, and took his chance when it suddenly arrived minutes later. Broady led 40-0 with points to level again, but capitulated drastically: losing five of the next six to go down 4-2, as things unravelled.
Nava will play home hopeful and Tunis challenger finalist Geoffrey Blancaneaux for his first Grand Slam main draw appearance outside his native United States.
Jan Choinski began promisingly but couldn’t maintain that pace against Austria’s Sebastian Ofner, who reeled off nine aces in the final two sets and dwarfed him in the winner column (35-6) to prevail with a bagel set in the decider (3-6, 6-4, 6-0).
Wimbledon’s feelgood story Ryan Peniston suffered a similar fate, albeit not as drastic a scoreline against the reliable if unspectacular play of Moldova’s Radu Albot.
The 33-year-old, seeded eighth in qualifying, was slow to start and lost the first set 6-2 before cutting down on his errors and upping the ante as Peniston endured a sharp momentum swing (28 unforced errors in sets 2-3) he couldn’t arrest quickly enough.
On the women’s side, Francesca Jones couldn’t back up her straight-sets win over Coco Vandeweghe and make the final qualifying round as she tearfully retired with a shoulder injury, down 4-1 in the first set against Swisswoman Ylena In-Albon.
Following the painful pattern suffered by all three men on the ATP tour, Harriet Dart lost in three sets against France’s Elsa Jacquemot – who served four double-faults in the opening set alone and was leaking errors, but found her groove early in set two.
Had she been successful in qualifying this week, Katie Boulter was to be Britain’s top-ranked female player in Paris after injuries to Emma Raducanu and Jodie Burrage.
Instead, it was another frustrating H2H meeting with American teenager Ashlyn Krueger – who beat her at this very same stage in US Open qualifiers last August.
The 26-year-old served 11 double-faults in three sets, which couldn’t have helped establish much rhythm on serve in a battle that needed a ten-point tiebreak to finish.
Florence finalist Taylor Townsend recovered from a set and break down to overwhelm Slovenia’s Kaja Juvan 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 and earn a final round showdown against Russian teenager Maria Timofeeva, holding her nerve in clutch moments.
The 19-year-old also rallied from behind to win, beating Poland’s Maja Chwalinska in three – boasting almost triple her winners (36) but a whopping 46 unforced errors.
Tamara Zidansek, who threatened an upset against Ons Jabeur in round one at this year’s Australian Open, has twice faced adversity but emerged through the fire against Nigina Abduraimova and Anastasia Zakharova in three-set battles.
She’ll play Spain’s Aliona Bolsova next for a main draw place, having achieved her best career Grand Slam result in Paris two years ago as a semi-finalist. The last time she didn’t make the first-round of a Major tournament was Wimbledon, 2018.
Frenchwoman Fiona Ferro, who enjoyed her best Major result among home comforts in 2020 (R4, lost to Sofia Kenin), was handed a qualifying wildcard and will play Australia’s Jaimee Fourlis in the final round after their contrasting victories today.
Clara Tauson backed up her Katie Swan win by dropping just three games against Croatia’s Petra Marcinko (6-2, 6-1), and will play Sweden’s Mirjam Bjorklund after the 23-year-old blasted past Slovenian vet Polona Hercog, losing just one game.
Much like her younger sister Mirra, 2021 girls’ singles runner-up Erika is also into the final qualifying round after a three-set win over Olivia Gadecki and will now play Serbia’s Olga Danilovic. If successful, she’ll be another main draw debutant.
Ones to watch
2020 French Open boys’ champion Dominic Stricker, world no. 116 at 20yo and rising
Bengaluru champ and Czech talent Brenda Fruhvirtova, turned 16 last month
Sara Bejlek, Fruhvirtova’s compatriot – a year older – another rising prospect
China’s 18-year-old Juncheng Shang, who Frances Tiafoe tipped for greatness
Lucas Pouille back on home soil, with a protected ranking after all his injury woes
Withdrawals and wildcards, on both tours
Rafael Nadal (hip) – replaced by Dominic Thiem
Pablo Carreno Busta (elbow) – Michael Mmoh
Matteo Berrettini (abdominal) – Aleksandar Kovacevic
Marin Cilic (knee) – Fabio Fognini
Nick Kyrgios (foot) – Taro Daniel
Andy Murray (rest) – Matteo Arnaldi
Jenson Brooksby (wrist) – Alexander Shevchenko
Soon-woo Kwon (shoulder) – David Goffin
Wildcards: Benoit Paire, Hugo Gaston, Thanasi Kokkinakis, Patrick Kypson, Arthur Fils, Arthur Cazaux and Hugo Grenier while Lyon-born 2021 French Open junior semifinalist Giovanni Mpetshi Perricard (19) will make his Grand Slam debut
Simona Halep (suspension) – Tereza Martincova
Amanda Anisimova (mental health break) – Magdalena Frech
Emma Raducanu (wrist, ankle) – Nadia Podoroska
Jennifer Brady (foot) – lucky loser
Alison Van Uytvanck (back) – Oceane Dodin
Daria Saville (torn ACL) – Katie Volynets
Wildcards: Kristina Mladenovic, Clara Burel, Leolia Jeanjean, Diane Parry, Kimberly Birrell, Jessika Ponchet and Selena Janicijevic while American 22-year-old Emma Navarro – 2019 junior finalist – will also make her first senior main draw appearance
Another Major tournament is almost upon us. I’ll be producing daily round-ups with the latest results, game reports and news at this year’s French Open, so be sure to stay tuned as always – moandsports.com for the latest coverage.
Picture source: Getty Images