Marino, Schunk clear opening hurdles

Canadian ninth seed joins German teenager in second round of women's qualifying in Paris

Rebecca Marino, Roland Garros 2022, qualifying first round© Clément Mahoudeau/FFT
 - Dan Imhoff

Rebecca Marino offers a sound word of warning before ascending 674 steps up the Eiffel Tower.

Best leave it until the aches and fatigue subside after losing a maiden third round at Roland Garros.

The Canadian former world No.38 found out the hard way in 2011 when visiting family members convinced her it would be a good idea, following her defeat to Svetlana Kuznetsova.


The now 31-year-old launched her qualifying campaign on Tuesday with a 6-4, 6-3 victory over Argentine Paula Ormaechea, after which details of the landmark climb became apparent.

“I was actually talking about it the other day with my fitness coach that I remember playing Kuznetsova third round,” Marino said. “Even the matches prior people were telling me maybe clay wasn't my best surface and kind of being like 'you know what, I want to prove you wrong'…

“Of course, [11] years ago in the third round after losing, my cousins and my aunt and uncle were here and they wanted to walk up the Eiffel Tower.

“I was exhausted after losing and going up. My uncle's scared of heights, so it was good memories all around.”

Marino, who booked a meeting with Katarina Zavatska, only returned to Roland-Garros for qualifying eight years later following a hiatus from the sport.

She qualified for her first Grand Slam main draw since 2013 at last year’s Australian Open before winning a round.

She made her way back into the main draw again in Melbourne earlier this year and carried that form to ITF events in the US and Mexico, where she compiled a 16-3 record, including a W60 title in California.

“Definitely feeling confident this year. AO started things off really well,” she said. “I can even go back to Canadian Open in August … then AO qualifying and I'm just having a really good string, so I'm just hoping to continue that.

“Having that self-belief and confidence helps a lot with the wins. Just knowing deep down I have the game is also really nice.”

German teenager Nastasja Schunk made a triumphant start to her Grand Slam qualifying debut, joining Marino in the second round after a 7-5, 3-6, 6-3 win over 16th seed Laura Pigossi.

Nastasja Schunk, Roland Garros 2022, qualifying first round© Andre Ferreira/FFT

“I was kind of nervous because it's my first Grand Slam but my opponent played really high top spin and this was really tough for me,” Schunk said.

Last year’s girls’ singles runner-up at Wimbledon has reached two ITF finals on clay – Joue-Les-Tours, France and Wiesbaden, Germany – in the past two months.

She picked up invaluable tour-level experience when she qualified for the Stuttgart main draw for a second straight year, where she tested world No.16 Elena Rybakina.

“I mean it was a confidence boost [pushing Rybakina] because I know now when I play good I can also play with top-50 players,” Schunk said after setting a clash with Veronica Cepede Royg. “It was a really good match from me even though I didn't get the win.”

Beyond her foremost aim of qualifying for her major main draw debut, Schunk too hears the Eiffel Tower calling.

“I haven't visited Paris before but the hotel is like 15 minutes to walk from the Eiffel Tower,” she said. “I want to go there. We'll see when I have time.”

Marino, for her part, would not rule out a return up Paris’ most iconic monument.

“Maybe not immediately after a win or loss,” she laughed. “I'll find the right time to do it maybe just for once a decade kind of thing.”

In other first-round women’s qualifying matches, Germany’s Katharina Gerlach downed former world No.9 Coco Vandeweghe 7-6(4), 6-4, while Romanian seeds Irina Bara and Mihaela Buzarnescu advanced over Jesika Maleckova and Han Xinyun, respectively.