Alcaraz breaks new ground in Paris

 - Alex Sharp

Huge comeback sealed and main draw tickets secured on final day of RG2021 qualifying

Carlos Alcaraz, Roland-Garros 2021©Loïc Wacziak / FFT

He’s picking up silverware, cracked the top 100 and now Carlos Alcaraz is into his first Roland-Garros main draw.

The Spanish hot shot, coached by 2003 champion Juan Carlos Ferrero, visited the grounds as a fan six years ago and told himself he would make it as a professional. Now it is a reality.

Another efficient display, 6-1, 6-1 over Alejandro Tabilo, completed the 18-year-old’s qualifying quest having dropped just 11 games along the way.

“I’m really really happy, it’s a great feeling to make my first main draw here,” claimed the world No.94, drawn to face compatriot Bernabe Zapata Miralles in the first round. “Everyone is really hungry to qualify, so it’s a great achievement for me."

In February, Alcaraz ran the qualifying gauntlet in Melbourne, before reaching the Australian Open second round. The ambitious Spaniard is after more this time round.

“I feel very comfortable. Last week winning the Challenger in Portugal, wining these three matches, I’m confident, but it’s not easy to play the best of five sets," he said. "I feel more ready and that I can improve what I did in Australia.”

Ana Konjuh has deserved a big break, enduring four elbow surgeries since her most recent Grand Slam showing at Wimbledon 2018.

Now the amiable Croatian will return to the major arena following a 7-6(1), 6-4 victory over Rebecca Sramkova with third seed Aryna Sabalenka standing in her path.

“I didn’t want to get ahead of myself, the priority is to stay healthy. It means a lot, I love all the Grand Slams and it’s amazing to be here,” the 2016 US Open quarter-finalist said.

“It was really hard to get back to this level. But I’m back in Grand Slams, which is the most important thing. I’ve just got to keep going, thinking positive and give it my all, play on my terms.”

Daniel Elahi Galan , Roland Garros 2021 qualifying© Philippe Montigny/FFT

American youngster Jenson Brooksby saved three match points to prevail in a lung-bursting three-hour, 22-minute tussle with French wildcard Evan Furness.

The 20-year-old, who has scooped three Challenger titles already this season, posted a 6-7(5), 7-6(2), 6-4 win to earn an intriguing encounter with Australian Open semi-finalist Aslan Karatsev

The smile from cheek to cheek said it all. Last autumn Daniel Elahi Galan ventured to the third round in Paris, making the most of his opportunity as a lucky loser.

The Colombian has truly earned his main draw spot this time at RG2021, posting a hard-fought 5-7, 7-6(4), 6-4 victory over Belgium’s Kimmer Coppejans.

“It feels really good,” said Galan, who arrived off the back of a final showing at the Heilbronn Challenger. “I’ve had to adapt here, when not playing my best I’ve found answers. You know in tennis that everything can change at any moment. I’m so happy how I kept fighting.”

The 25-year-old fell to world No.1 Novak Djokovic in straight sets last October, but would relish another chance to compete on the most prestigious stage.

“The first round against Cameron Norrie was really special, my first win in a Grand Slam main draw,” continued the Colombian, drawn against world No.59 Guido Pella in the first round.

“Playing on Philippe-Chatrier against Djokovic was, let’s say, a difficult match, but it was a memorable experience and hopefully this year I’ll be back on that court.

“That match showed me I have a lot to improve physically and improve in my game and it’s about building towards that every day. But it also showed I’m on the right path, earning chances to play opponents like Djokovic.”

Wang Xiyu, Roland Garros 2021, qualifying final round© Andre Ferreira/FFT

Despite surrendering two match points in the second set, China’s Wang Xiyu fended off ninth seed Elisabetta Cocciaretto 6-3, 6-7(8), 6-3. The 2018 US Open junior champion continues to grow into the professional game with her second appearance at a major and will take to court against world No.50 Danielle Collins at the first hurdle.

Americans Hailey Baptiste and Mackenzie McDonald joined the main draw alongside Denis Istomin, who has the task of tackling the returning 2009 champion Roger Federer.