Qualifying for the French Open gets under way this week, with the draws made on Monday, and there are some fine players fighting it out on the courts of Roland Garros hoping to gain entry into the main draw, among them two Brits, Harriet Dart and Samantha Murray Sharan.
Viewers in the UK can watch the live action on Eurosport and ITV as a great mix of talented teens and seasoned veterans battle it out on the clay courts in Paris.
Dart opens her campaign against the No 5 seed, Mihaela Buzarnescu from Romania, while Murray takes on Australia’s Arina Rodionova.
Qualifying top seed, Ann Li, of the United States, is trying to reach her 3rd Grand Slam main draw of the year and made a strong impression at the US Open earlier this month, where she upset Arantxa Rus and Alison Riske before falling to Angelique Kerber in the third round.
The 20-year-old faces Dutchwoman Indy de Vroome in the first round.
The 18-year-old Marta Kostyuk from Ukraine is coming off of an impressive third-round showing at the US Open earlier this month and is just 3 spots off her career-high ranking of No 116, which she first achieved in January last year.
A former Australian Open junior champion, Kostyuk exploded onto the scene when she reached the 3rd round of the women’s event in Melbourne as a 15-year-old qualifier on her Grand Slam debut in 2018.
At the US Open two weeks ago, she took out former top-10 player Daria Kasatkina, and two-time semi-finalist Anastasija Sevastova before falling to eventual champion Naomi Osaka in three tight sets.
Last month, she won 3 rounds of qualifying on the clay courts of the WTA tournament in Prague, but was edged in her main draw opener by Camila Giorgi in a third-set tiebreak.
Kostyuk opens her qualifying campaign against Isabella Shinikova of Bulgaria.
Russia’s Vera Zvonareva is a former World No 2 and has had a strong few weeks since the tour resumed last month.
The 36-year old lifted the US Open doubles trophy with her partner Laura Siegemund in New York two weeks ago, and earlier made the last-16 stage at the Western & Southern Open in singles as a qualifier.
The former Wimbledon finalist will be making just her second appearance at Roland-Garros since 2011.
Her best result at the Parisian Grand Slam came back in 2003, when she reached the quarter-finals.
Zvonareva begins her quest for a main draw berth against fellow Russian Natalia Vikhlyantseva.
Nadia Podoroska is a 23-year-old from Argentina, who has won 14 of her 17 matches played on clay since the tennis tour restarted last month.
Ranked a career-high No 130 in the world this week, Podoroska won the ITF $60k tournament in Saint-Malo, France earlier this month and made the semi-finals at the WTA $125k event in Prague as well as qualifying for the WTA showpiece in Palermo.
Podoroska, who is bidding for a first Roland-Garros main draw appearance, and just her second at a Grand Slam, starts her qualifying journey against Poland’s Magdalena Frech.
Italy’s Sara Errani was runner-up to Maria Sharapova at Roland-Garros in 2012 and owns a 21-11 record on Parisian clay.
A former world No.5, Errani, now aged 33, is down to No 149 in the rankings but had an encouraging restart to the season when she reached the quarter-finals of the WTA tournament in Palermo last month.
Errani, who opens against Georgia’s Ekaterine Gorgodze, is looking to make her first Grand Slam main draw appearance in two years.
Her last showing at a major was a first-round three-set defeat to Alizé Cornet at Roland-Garros in 2018.
Last year 17-year-old Clara Tauson became the first Danish girl to top the junior world rankings and is swiftly showing great promise on the women’s tour.
The 2019 Australian Open junior champion is 9-2 win-loss on the ITF circuit since the tour resumed last month, and comes to Roland-Garros at a career-high ranking of No 196.
Besides winning an ITF $15k title in Oeiras a month ago, Tauson marched to the 4th round at the WTA $125k tournament in Prague, upsetting Errani along the way.
First up for Tauson this week in qualifying is Romania’s Gabriela Talaba.
Others to keep an eye on include American teenagers Whitney Osuigwe, the 2017 Roland-Garros junior champion, and Caty McNally, the girls’ doubles champion and girls’ singles runner-up in 2018, who are bidding to make their respective main draw debuts in the French capital.
McNally reached the US Open 3rd round earlier this month.
Serbia’s Ivana Jorovic, a 2014 Roland-Garros junior finalist, has had a solid build-up to the action in Paris, making the semi-finals at the WTA $125k in Prague, while Kristina Kucova clinched that title in the Czech capital by dropping just 1 set in 7 matches.