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And so it begins…

Who reading this, even those who may not have affection for or affiliation with the game of tennis, could have failed to be mesmerised by the recent Raducanu journey, which concluded with her becoming the first ever qualifier to win one of the game’s primary sporting...

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Osorio Serrano and Konjuh win Paris QR1 as Brits fall

While Maria Camila Osorio Serrano and Ana Konjuh were among the winners to advance into the second  round at the French Open qualifying in Paris on Tuesday, Brits Samantha Murray Sharan and Jodie Burrage failed to make the first hurdle, both losing in straight sets and leaving only Harriet Dart to carry British hopes of making it into the main draw.

I believe I belong there and I can do well, even if its on clay. I need to stay focused, stay positive and my level is going to go up. It was one of my goals for the year to reach the qualies here, so that’s checked off the list. I’m really happy to be back. Ana Konjuh

Murray Sharan lost to Richel Hogenkamp, 6-3 6-4, while Burrage fell to Irina Barra, the No 14 seed from Romania.

Osorio Serrano, the No 11 seed from Colombia, dispatched Olga Danilovic from Serbia, 6-3 6-2, while Konjuh, who is from Croatia, moved past America’s Robin Anderson, 6-4 6-4, in an hour 26 minutes.

Both made quick turn-arounds after deep runs at the Serbia Ladies Open last week, coming through qualifying to play each other in the last four, which Konjuh edged in two tiebreak sets, but then she had to retire during the final against Spain’s Paula Badosa due to a hip injury.

19-year old Osorio Serrano won her maiden title in Bogota in April and made 2 further semi-finals, which have enabled the Colombian to break into the Top 100 this week, and she is now after her Grand Slam main draw debut.

Danilovic, who won the 2018 Moscow River Cup, found Osorio Serrano’s greater variety and nuance hard to blunt with her power, while the Colombian’s stance well inside the baseline for the Serb’s serve, and her deployment of the drop-shot, proved too efficient to handle.

Osorio Serrano needed only 65 minutes to claim victory and plays Hogenkamp next, in round two.


Ana Konjuh moved past Robin Anderson in straight sets to meet Timea Babos in qualifying round two

Roland-Garros/Facebook

After winning the 2013 Australian Open junior title, Ana Konjuh’s parents allowed the Croatian to get a tattoo and the word ‘Faith’ is inked onto the left wrist of the 23-year-old, who has had to deal with her fair share of adversity in recent years.

Four elbow surgeries and 3 seasons have passed, but Konjuh is now back in business.

Seeking a first Grand Slam main draw since 2018, the World No 144 is up and running with a steady straight sets win Anderson.

“I believe I belong there and I can do well, even if its on clay,” stated the Croatian, who enjoyed a 10/13 success rate at the net and fired 34 winners on court. “I need to stay focused, stay positive and my level is going to go up.

“It was one of my goals for the year to reach the qualies here, so that’s checked off the list. I’m really happy to be back.”

The 23-year old, who is a former World No 20 but was unranked as recently as last September, has soared back up to World No 144 after reaching the 4th round in Miami, the quarter-finals in Istanbul and the Belgrade final.

The Croat has scored wins over Madison Keys, Iga Swiatek and Yulia Putintseva en route, and is seeking a place in a Grand Slam main draw for the first time since Wimbledon 2018.

Up next for Konjuh is the tricky reigning Roland-Garros doubles champion Timea Babos, a former World No 25 from Hungary, who made heavy weather of Taipei’s You Xiaodi, coming through 6-4 2-6 7-6(2) in a gruelling 2 hours and 32 minutes.

Another Belgrade semi-finalist, Viktoriya Tomova of Bulgaria, also picked up where she left off in Serbia as the No 16 seed claimed a 6-3 6-4 win over Russia’s Natalia Vikhlyantseva in her first-round match.

She was joined in the second round by her compatriot Tsvetana Pironkova, as the No 10 seed fought past Caroline Dolehide of the United States, 6-7(7) 6-2 6-4.

Pironkova returned to the tour after a 3-year absence by making a spectacular run to the 2020 US Open quarter-finals, and she hasn’t missed a Grand Slam main draw since, having reached the 3rd round of 2020 Roland Garros as a qualifier, then successfully qualified again at the 2021 Australian Open.


Claire Liu celebrated her 21st birthday with a win over Rebecca Marino on Tuesday

Roland-Garros/Facebook

It was a happy 21st birthday for in-form Claire Liu, putting the icing on the cake with a hard-fought 4-6 6-2 6-0 comeback against Canada’s Rebecca Marino.

“It’s pretty nice, this is one of the sweetest birthdays,” revealed the American 20th seed, arriving in Paris after lifting back-to-back trophies on clay on the ITF World Tennis Tour.

“She has a pretty big game, I was at her mercy at the start, but I kept chipping away and I’m really pleased with the win. I had brilliant preparation and hopefully I can keep this momentum going.

“If I look too far ahead it messes with my head a little bit, so I’ve just been gaining more confidence. I’ve definitely built up enough matches that I believe I can compete with anyone on the court.”

The former 2017 Wimbledon girls’ champion reached 4 ITF finals this season, including consecutive green clay titles in Charlottesville and Charleston, and extends her season record to 24-7, with an active winning streak of 10 with her win over the Canadian.

Hailey Baptiste stands in Liu’s path at the second hurdle after the American took out Czech Tereza Smitkova, 6-4 6-2.

Fellow American Caty McNally was forced to retire just 5 games into her first match, though, having captured her 4th WTA doubles title last weekend in Parma alongside Coco Gauff, but the No 6 seed called it quits trailing Liang En-Shuo from Taipei, 1-4, due to a calf injury.

She was one of a trio of seeds that are now no longer in contention, as Germany’s Antonia Lottner posted a 7-5 6-4 win to dismiss 8th-seeded Anna Kalinskaya from Russia, while Aleksandra Krunic from Serbia rallied 3-6 6-2 6-2 to overcome No 3 seed Liudmila Samsonova from Russia.

Anastasia Gasanova, another Russian, made her WTA main draw debut in Abu Dhabi as a qualifier, and announced herself by immediately scoring a win over Karolina Pliskova, and then made the St Petersburg quarter-finals in March, ousting Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova en route, as she rose to World No 172.

The 22-year-old squared off in the first round of qualifying against Olivia Gadecki, who had stunned Sofia Kenin at the Phillip Island Trophy and went on to pick up her first pro title in Antalya in April.

Unranked at the start of the year, the 19-year old Aussie now sits at a career high of World No 518 but faded fast after winning the opening set when Gasanova recovered from her impatience to defeat the wild-card, 4-6 6-0 6-1.

No 17 seed Elena-Gabriela Ruse found herself pitted against French wild-card Aubane Droguet for the second tournament in a row, having defeated the 18-year-old in 3 sets in the first round of the Saint-Gaudens ITF W60 event 3 weeks ago, but the Romanian came through, 6-2 0-6 6-0, this time round.

Another former Top 25 player eked her way into the second round, as No 30 seed Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine edged American Danielle Lao, 6-1 4-6 7-6(0).

Tsurenko watched Lao fight her way back from 4-0 to 6-6 in the roller-coaster 3rd set, but Ukrainian did not afford Lao another comeback as the former World No 23 swept every point in the decisive tiebreak.




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