Paris | Junior champ makes main draw as qualifiers determined

On Thursday, Linda Noskova, the reigning junior champion at Roland Garros, became the youngest woman to qualify for the French Open in Paris since 2009, joining 8 others to make it into the main draw, while the remaining hopefuls await the outcome of their 3rd-round matches on Friday.

It has a huge meaning for me. I played four qualies now, and my first one at Wimbledon, I had two match points in that final match and lost. That’s not a nice experience, so I was pretty emotional at the end to reach a main draw for the first time. Jule Niemeier

The 17-year old Czech prodigy, already ranked 185 in the world, tasted Grand Slam glory last summer when she landed the girls’ singles trophy and now, a year later, she is making her mark on the French clay again.

A comprehensive 6-3 6-2 passage past Rebecca Sramkova makes her the youngest Czech to feature at a major since Nicole Vaidisova at the 2006 US Open, and the youngest woman to qualify for Roland-Garros since a 16-year-old Michelle Larcher de Brito in 2009.

“It feels really great, I wasn’t expecting it at all,” said Noskova. “I didn’t come here with too much practice, or too many matches, so I wasn’t too prepared.

“I remember four or five years ago, I lost in the junior qualifying first round here. I came onsite and it was a real dream come true, just to be here to soak it all in. I said to myself I have to play here one day.

“I have great memories from the juniors, the whole occasion, moments with the crowd, I just love the vibes here.”

Noskova has been plying her trade on the ITF World Tennis Tour, the level below the WTA, scooping up 3 titles along the way.

“I’ve been playing professional over a year now, and I knew, here, I could be as good or even better than them because I won some $60,000 tournaments,” added the teenager. “What matters is now and I’m so happy to still be here.”

Jule Niemeier dropped just 7 games in 3 matches to reach the main draw in Paris

©Clément Mahoudeau / FFT

Elsewhere, Germany’s Jule Niemeier, ranked 103, made it 4th time lucky after losing in the latter stages of qualifying at the past 3 Grand Slams, when the 22-year-old finally moved into a major main draw by emphatically dismissing Moyuka Uchijima from Japan, 6-0 6-1.

“It has a huge meaning for me,” Niemeier said. “I played four qualies now, and my first one at Wimbledon, I had two match points in that final match and lost.

“That’s not a nice experience, so I was pretty emotional at the end to reach a main draw for the first time.”

Niemeier has been in dominant form this week, surrendering just 7 games across her 3 matches.

“These have been the perfect conditions for me and my game, with the weather, helping me to play my game, to attack with my serve and forehand. It’s working well so far,” reflected the German.

“I will try to enjoy my next couple of days, relax a bit and then get my focus back on again. I’ll be ready.”

Niemeier’s Billie Jean King Cup team-mate Laura Siegemund, though, could not double up the German success, the 2020 quarter-finalist letting a lead slip before falling 4-6 6-3 6-1 to 21st seed Cristina Bucsa from Spain, who qualifies for Roland-Garros at her 3rd attempt.

Former World No 19 Donna Vekic from Croatia was pushed all the way by Anastasia Gasanova before the the 6th seed came through the nearly 3-hour long battle, 4-6 6-2 6-2.

China’s 3rd seed Zhu Lin completed qualifying with 7-5 6-3 win over Viktoria Kuzmova from Slovakia, 6-4 6-2; while Serbia’s Aleksandra Krunic also booked her ticket into the main draw courtesy of a 7-5 6-2 victory against Reka Luca Jani, the 20th seed from Hungary.

Meanwhile, Belgian’s Ysaline Bonaventure needed just 65 minutes to advance past Finland’s Anastasia Kulikova, and 5th-seeded Romanian Irina Bara edged into the main draw with a 7-6(5) 6-4 over Japan’s Nao Hibino.

The remainder of qualifying matches conclude on Friday before main draw action kicks off on Sunday.



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