Britain’s Katie Boulter, Harriet Dart and Fran Jones all lost their 2nd-round qualifying matches at the French Open on Wednesday, joining Heather Watson, Katie Swan, Lily Miyazaki beaten on Tuesday and Sonay Kartal on Monday, on the sidelines, and leaving GBR without a single representative in the women’s singles main draw.
Of course I felt confident [after Madrid] but it's different between self-confidence and just confidence because if you are too self-confident, then it will be not good for your career because you can go, as my coach says, as a diva. So I just try to stay humble, and just practise after Madrid as usual, and so here I am. Mirra Andreeva
Emma Raducanu, the British No 1 who would have received a direct entry into the main draw, is out of action following operations on both her wrists and an ankle.
This is the first time since the 2009 US Open that Britain will not feature in the women’s singles competition at a Grand Slam.
Boulter, the British No 3 and seeded 24 in qualifying, was beaten 6-2 2-6 7-6[10-3] by American 19-year-old Ashlyn Krueger, while Dart, ranked 135, fell to a 1-6 6-1 6-2 loss to Elsa Jacquemot, the World No 175 from France, and Jones had to retire against Ylena In-Albon from Switzerland.
Despite a gutsy display against Krueger, Boulter failed to serve out for the match after a lengthy battle.
Krueger claimed the opener before Boulter hit back to level, but then the Briton quickly found herself 2-5 down in the decider, and then fought back to reel off 4 consecutive games to give herself the chance to serve it out when the American forced the tiebreak.
It was then that the teenager from Missouri, who had beaten Miyazaki in the 1st-round, held her nerve to set up a 3rd qualifying round meeting with Storm Sanders, after the Australian defeated Germany’s Mona Barthel, 6-3 6-2.
Jones, ranked 316, who suffers from a congenital condition which means she has three fingers and a thumb on each hand, three toes on one foot and four toes on the other, was left in tears as she had to retire due to an apparent shoulder injury when 1-4 down in the first set.
The 22-year old beat Coco Vandeweghe on Monday and was enjoying some encouraging results on the clay-court swing before travelling to Roland Garros.
This latest issue comes at an unfortunate time for Jones, who has only just returned from a year out with a range of injuries and had finally managed to string together a run of matches before suffering yet another setback.
She recently opened up on the mental hardship she experienced throughout her long and painful recovery process, with the 22-year-old still unaware as to whether or not her issues were related in any way to her condition.
“I don’t think I can say yes or no to that, to be honest, because I wasn’t really given a diagnosis,” Jones told the Daily Mail last month. “In Australia last year I basically started off with a problem in my elbow, and then I fractured my foot. Then I had a nerve injury which was peculiar and a mystery to all the doctors.
“We just knew that it was a nerve issue. It was extremely rare and nothing familiar to me, I just know it’s in my upper body, around my playing arm, I’m still not sure if it has properly healed.
“For me it’s really been about perseverance. I’ve faced multiple things, so it has definitely been challenging, it’s been a long period.”
It remains to be seen whether Jones can make a quick recovery over the coming weeks as she eyes a return to the court ahead of qualifying for Wimbledon next month.
Jones came close to breaking into the world’s Top 100 during the latter stages of 2021 before falling away due to her fitness issues, and will be hopeful of returning to the fold in the not-too-distant future, as long as she is able to return to her peak condition.
The lack of any British women in the Roland Garros main draw comes just as the LTA has posted an overall loss of £16.4 million in its latest set of financial figures for 2022, citing inflationary pressures and increased investment in events on British soil, as well as the fines totalling £1.4 million imposed by the ATP and WTA for banning players from Russia and Belarus last year.
Meanwhile, Mirra Andreeva, the youngest woman in the Top 300, dropped just 2 games to set a date with qualifying top seed Camila Osorio.
Only a month ago, Andreeva rang in her 16th birthday in Madrid with a run to the Round of 16, the youngest to do so since the advent of WTA 1000 events back in 2009.
It took eventual champion, World No 2 Aryna Sabalenka, to crash the party earlier this month, following the teenager’s back-to-back wins over Top 20 players, Beatriz Haddad Maia and Magda Linette.
After surrendering just 2 games to Colombia’s Emiliana Arango to reach the final round of qualifying on Wednesday, Andreeva was quick to draw a distinction between confidence and any perceived cockiness that could have crept in since.
“Of course I felt confident [after Madrid] but it’s different between self-confidence and just confidence because if you are too self-confident, then it will be not good for your career because you can go, as my coach says, as a diva,” she laughed. “So I just try to stay humble, and just practise after Madrid as usual, and so here I am.”
Her reward is a date with another Colombian, Osorio, who was a 6-0 6-1 winner over Bulgarian former Roland-Garros quarter-finalist Sesil Karatantcheva in just 50 minutes.
The Colombian dropped only 8 points in the first set against the 33-year-old Bulgarian, who is playing her third tournament back from a 4-year hiatus.
Although Karatantcheva got on the board in the 4th game of the second set, Osorio maintained her dominance, closing out the match with a sizzling forehand on the run.
Osorio and Andreeva now will face off for a place in the Roland Garros main draw, meeting for the first time.
Later, Andreeva’s 18-year old older sister, Erika, joined Mirra in the last round of qualies, when the 13th seeded Russian defeated Olivia Gadecki from Australia, 6-4 4-6 6-1, and she next will face No 27 seed Olga Danilovic from Serbia, who won the battle of two of the past month’s ITF W100 champions, with Madrid winner Danilovic triumphing 6-3 6-2 over Trnava champion Yanina Wickmayer from Belgium.
Two Czech teenagers have also reached the final qualifying round, with 17-year old Sara Bejlek and 16-year old Brenda Fruhvirtova just one match away from their first Roland Garros main-draw appearances.
Bejlek defeated Canada’s Carol Zhao, 6-4 6-1, in 67 minutes, and Fruhvirtova overcame Liechtenstein’s Kathinka Von Deichmann, 7-6(4) 6-1, in an hour and 38 minutes.
Striking 20 winners to Zhao’s 9, Bejlek dominated proceedings against the 177-ranked Canadian, while Fruhvirtova took a set to find answers to Von Deichmann’s finesse, overturning a 1-3 first set deficit before pulling away in the second.
Bejlek will take on No 19 seed Viktoria Hruncakova from Slovakia, who came from 2-5 down in the first set, saving 2 set points en route, before quelling 19-year-old French wild-card Nina Radovanovic 7-5 7-6(1).
Fruhvirtova will meet another home player, No 190-ranked Alice Robbe, who defeated Hungarian Reka Luca Jani, 7-6(4) 7-5.
Elsewhere, American Taylor Townsend and Dayana Yastremska from Ukraine both triumphed in roller-coaster matches to reach the final round.
In a contest filled with terrific touch and tactical play, Townsend recovered from a one-sided opening set to defeat 20th-seeded Kaja Juvan from Slovenia, 1-6 6-3 6-4.
The American, a finalist at the Paris WTA 125 last week, sealed her win after an hour and 52 minutes with a forehand volley, her 22nd net point won out of 29 approaches of the day.
Yastremska served for a straight-sets victory over another American, Sachia Vickery, at 5-4 in the second set and was just 2 points from the win in that game, but the Ukrainian ultimately wrapped it up 6-2 5-7 6-3 in 2 hours and 15 minutes, converting a match point with a volley winner, her 35th of the contest, against 55 unforced errors.
The 23-year-old former World No 21 will next face the in-form 25th seed Greet Minnen, who was an efficient 6-4 6-1 winner over Elena-Gabriela Ruse from Romania.
The former No 69 Belgian started 2023 outside the Top 200 but is back up to No 119 after compiling a 36-9 record this season.
Minnen has reached at least the semi-finals in all but one tournament she has entered since January, including consecutive runner-up showings this month at the Saint-Malo 125 and Trnava ITF W100 events.