Britain’s Katie Swan won her second-round match at Wimbledon qualifying on Thursday, making her the last Brit left standing in the draw at Roehampton, after coming from behind to beat American Caty McNally, 4-6 7-6(4) 7-5, but Naiktha Bains fell to Tsvetana Pironkova from Bulgaria in straight sets.
My tennis really shone in the tiebreak and I was fighting for every point after not being aggressive in the first set. Katie Swan
As the second round of matches was completed, 6 third and final round matches were also played on Thursday, sending Anna Kalinskaya from Russia, American Katie Volynets, Lesley Pattinama Kerkhove from the Netherlands, Ukraine’s Lesia Tsurenko, Greet Minnen from Belgium and America’s Claire Liu into the main draw of The Championships, which starts on Monday at Wimbledon.
22-year old Swan, who has suffered an injury-strewn year, kept her hopes of qualifying alive with an impressive display of her fighting qualities against McNally, the No 6 seed, and will take on Australian Arina Rodionova, the World No 149, on Friday for a spot in the grass-court Grand Slam.
Ranked 284, Swan reached the Wimbledon second round in 2018 and admitted that for her family watching the match online it was probably ‘killing them’ as she took the second set into a tiebreak, which she won 7-4, before trailing 5-3 in the deciding set.
“My tennis really shone in the tiebreak and I was fighting for every point after not being aggressive in the first set,” said Swan, who missed the Nottingham Trophy with a quadriceps injury.
British wild-card Bains, however, was demolished by No 8 seed Pironkova, who is 10 tournaments into her return from maternity leave and delivered a stunning run to the US Open quarter-finals last year in her first event back.
The Bulgarian was ruthless in a 6-1, 6-2 demolition of Bains, winning 16 of the first 20 points and needing only 52 minutes in total.
Pironkova, a Wimbledon semi-finalist in 2010, has dropped just 4 games in 2 matches this week, both of which she completed in under an hour.
She will play Ana Konjuh, the No 23 seed, who returned from a 4th elbow surgery last September and made her 3rd career WTA final in Belgrade in May and dominated the first set against Varvara Flink.
The Russian, who gave birth to daughter Kaya last November and is embarking on her own comeback from maternity leave, was able to derail the Croat in the second set with crafty net play, but the former World No 20 resumed control and did not face a break point in the third set, ultimately coming through 6-0 5-7 6-3 to set a clash with Pironkova.
Top seed Maria Camila Osorio Serrano doubled her total of professional grass-court wins with a second three-set victory in a row.
The Colombian, who won her maiden title at home in Bogota in April, battled past Grand Slam qualifying debutante Panna Udvardy from Hungary, 6-4 3-6 6-2, in an hour 41 minutes.
Osorio Serrano’s fondness for heavy topspin and drop-shots does not translate as naturally to grass as to clay yet, but her grit under pressure is undimmed as demonstrated by 2 fabulous forehand passes in the third set that proved key to turning momentum in her favour.
At the age of 11, Osorio Serrano had her first taste of adversity in tennis when she left her hometown of Cúcuta, a tranquil city on the Venezuelan border, for the Club Med academy in Florida, where she stayed for 3 years and didn’t speak a word of English.
“It was really tough for me,” Osorio Serrano told wtatennis.com. “They put me in a room with two girls, one from Japan and the other from Canada. And I remember they were talking to me, talking really slowly, with hands and everything. I just didn’t understand a thing.
“That day, I called my dad and I said, ‘I want to come back, I don’t like it here, I don’t understand a word.’ He said, ‘No, be calm, be patient. If you want to be good at tennis you have to stay there and learn.’ And that’s what I did.”
By the age of 17, she was the 2019 US Open girls’ champion and junior World No 1, and, Osorio Serrano, who goes by Camila, or Cami to friends and family, is now showing the world that she is aiming for the top.
Up next for the 19-year-old is Nuria Parrizas Diaz, the late-blooming Spaniard who is perched at a career high of World No 148 at the age of 29.
Parrizas Diaz, who was denied a Grand Slam main draw debut at Roland Garros by Ekaterine Gorgodze in the final qualifying round, upset an erratic No 29 seed Wang Xiyu from China, 7-6(5) 6-3, to give herself another shot.
Former World No 29 Urszula Radwanska was a WTA finalist on grass at ‘s-Hertogenbosch 2012 and has reached the second round of Wimbledon four times, but the Pole, sister of 2012 Wimbledon runner-up Agnieszka, has battled injuries for several years, and her appearance in Roehampton was her first at Grand Slam qualifying level since the 2016 US Open.
Radwanska, 30, needed 5 match points to close out a 6-3 7-5 upset of No 18 seed Anna Karolina Schmiedlova from Slovakia, and is now one win away from her first major main draw since the 2016 Australian Open.
In her way is American Danielle Lao, who upset No 2 seed Viktoriya Tomova from Bulgaria, 6-1 2-6 6-4.
Among the first 6 qualifiers for Wimbledon 2021 now set, No 15 seed Greet Minnen led the way with a 6-2 6-2 dismissal of Varvara Lepchenko from the USA in just 59 minutes.
The Belgian, who held match point on Petra Kvitova in the first round of Roland Garros, fired 19 winners to book her place in a 6th consecutive Grand Slam main draw.
Minnen’s streak dates back to the 2020 Australian Open, and she has needed to come through qualifying on four of those occasions. This will be her SW19 debut: previously in 2019, she fell to Coco Gauff in the final round of qualifying.
Joining Minnen were No 16 seed 2017 Wimbledon junior champion Claire Liu and former World No 23 Lesia Tsurenko, who both lost tight opening sets before running away with their matches.
Liu, 21, overcame No 19 seed Astra Sharma from Australia, 4-6 6-2 6-1, to extend her record in a resurgent season to 30-10.
Tsurenko has battled an elbow injury for much of the past two years, and had not played since being forced to hand Magdalena Frech a walkover in the second round of Roland Garros qualifying a month ago.
The 32-year-old sealed a first Grand Slam main draw appearance since the 2020 Australian Open, defeating No 12 seed Wang Yafan from China, 5-7 6-2 6-2.
Elsewhere, Lesley Pattinama Kerkhove and Anna Kalinskaya took more dramatic routes into the main draw.
Pattinama Kerkhove needed to save 2 match points before edging out Germany’s Jule Niemeier, 6-4 2-6 9-7, in 2 hours 35 minutes, while No 4 seed Kalinskaya trailed Aussie Priscilla Hon by a 0-3 double break in the third set, but roared back to win 7 of the last 9 games, and 8 of the last 9 points from 5-5.
Niemeier, 21, has been in a rich vein of form recently, reaching the Strasbourg semi-finals a month ago in just her second WTA main draw, but despite advancing to 5-3 in the third set with well-disguised redirection that had Pattinama Kerkhove on the run, the German was unable to close out the win.
Two match points serving at 5-4 were squandered with a cheap error and a double-fault, and ill fortune struck at 6-6 when a slip on the grass necessitated a medical timeout.
Pattinama Kerkhove, 29, held firm to successfully navigate Grand Slam qualifying for the third time in 23 attempts.
The 6th player to reach the main draw was Katie Volynets, who impressed with her speed and intensity in defeating former World No 58 Beatriz Haddad Maia from Brazil, 7-5 6-4.
The 19-year-old American was the 2019 USTA Girls 18s national champion, a result that earned her a wild-card into the US Open that year and has made the most of her debut, having won all of her matches this week in straight sets.