The French Open begins on Sunday, but 128 hopeful women are already in action playing in the singles qualifying competition at Roland Garros, 7 of which are British contenders.
I think my variety helped me, I was hitting a lot of drop-shots. I've been working for these results. Camila Osorio
On Monday, 22-year old Fran Jones stunned a player ranked 152 places above her when she knocked out American Coco Vandeweghe, 6-3 6-3, but her compatriot, Sonay Kartal, lost her opening match to Slovakian Viktoria Hruncakova (née Kuzmova), despite having led 6-2, 5-1 and being on the verge of victory before losing 6 games in a row.
Hruncakova won 16 of the next 21 points to peg the Briton back to 5-5 as the former World No 43 went on to win, 2-6 7-5 6-4.
Jones, ranked 316, has returned to form this year after an injury-hit 2022, and her win over two-time Grand Slam semi-finalist Vandeweghe was well deserved after a dominant performance.
More Britons will seek to join her in the next round of women’s qualifying, with Harriet Dart, Heather Watson, Katie Boulter, Lily Miyazaki and Katie Swan all in action on Tuesday.
The women’s qualifying event is brimming with quality, exemplified by Camila Osorio spearheading the draw.
The top seed secured an efficient 6-4 6-3 win over Raluka Serban, coming from 3-1 down in the first set to defeat the No 191-ranked Cypriot.
“I think my variety helped me, I was hitting a lot of drop-shots,” the 21-year-old said, with a wide smile. “I’ve been working for these results.
“When you win matches in qualies, like Rome, you know you deserve to be there. I managed to stay calm and control my emotions.”
Osorio, a former World No 33, slipped outside the Top 100 two months ago after struggling with leg and hip injuries, and missed the main draw cut, but she has rebounded in style, and is back at No 84 this week after reaching the 3rd-round in Madrid and 4th-round in Rome.
The Colombian’s next opponent is mounting an even more ambitious comeback – 33-year old Sesil Karatantcheva, who did not play between Wimbledon 2019 and her return in the Zaragoza ITF W80 event a month ago.
The unranked Bulgarian notched her first win at any level since April 2019 with a 3-6 6-1 6-3 defeat of Fernanda Contreras in 2 hours and 8 minutes.
Karatantcheva, who reached the 2005 Roland Garros quarter-finals as a 15-year-old, impressed with a series of backhand winners on the run as she sped out to a 4-0 third-set lead, but she had to fight off a determined come-back from Contreras in a tense home stretch to close out the win.
Sixteen-year-old Mirra Andreeva from Russia turned heads in Madrid 3 weeks ago by upsetting Beatriz Haddad Maia and Magda Linette to reach the last 16, and the Australian Open junior finalist marked her Grand Slam qualifying debut with a 6-1 6-4 defeat of No 31 seed Polina Kudermetova from Russia, extending her pro record this year to 18-2.
Ranked 143 Andreeva dominated the opening set against the 19-year old, and was clutch on the biggest points of a second set that featured 7 breaks of serve.
She will next face 2018 Bogota quarter-finalist Emiliana Arango, after the Colombian notched up her own first Grand Slam qualifying victory 6-4 6-1 over Himeno Sakatsume from Japan.
Sophia Kenin, the Australian Open champion and Roland Garros runner-up in 2020, was knocked out of the first round by French wild-card Margaux Rouvroy, also making her Grand Slam qualifying debut with a memorable one by upsetting the No 23 seed, 6-4 6-3, in an hour and 39 minutes.
The 22-year-old Frenchwoman had only contested one previous tour-level qualifying match, a first-round loss to Linda Noskova in Lyon this year, but she had received a qualifying wild-card into her home major after compiling a 30-10 record on the ITF World Tour this year.
On a packed Court 14 with a home crowd chanting her name, Rouvroy showed off her defensive skills and anticipation, and effectively slowed the tempo of the match down against an opponent renowned for her fast play.
Kenin has been making her way back up the rankings following an injury-struck 2022, and the American is just over a week removed from a statement upset of World No 2 Aryna Sabalenka in the 2nd-round of Rome where she was able to blunt Sabalenka’s power.
On this occasion, however, she was the one drawn into 46 unforced errors by Rouvroy’s retrieving.
The first round of qualifying also produced a clash of French wild-cards, which saw No 565-ranked Nina Radovanovic, 19, save one match point en route to a 1-6 6-2 7-5 win over No 485-ranked Lois Boisson, 20.
Elsewhere, Lesley Pattinama Kerkhove from the Netherlands trailed Spain’s Leyre Romero Gormaz by a set and 5-3 before turning the match around to win 3-6 7-6(5) 6-4.
Sachia Vickery faced triple match point serving at 5-6 in the second set against No 16 seed Marina Bassols Ribera, the 16th seed from Spain, but the American responded by winning the next 9 points in a row, and 12 of the last 13 of the set to equalise.
Vickery took that momentum into the decider, taking the last 8 straight games for a 2-6 7-6(1) 6-0 win.
German youngster Noma Noha Akugue escaped 7-5 4-6 6-4 in a mammoth 3-hour, 13-minute tussle with home charge Emma Lene.
No 3 seed Arantxa Rus enjoyed a straight-sets passage past France’s Audrey Albie, while fellow seeds Elizabeth Mandlik, Simona Waltert and Greet Minnen all cleared the first hurdle.