Will RG's streak of first-time women’s champs continue?
Colombian continues to turn heads as she edges closer to a first Grand Slam main draw.
“It’s unreal, a dream, I’m going to keep working hard so that I can play in the same tournament as Roger," she said.
The former junior world No.1 rattled off eight games in a row to swat aside Richel Hogenkamp 6-4, 6-0 in the second round of Roland-Garros qualifying on Wednesday.
“I know last year wasn’t my best performance, I feel I have a lot more matches in my bag,” said the 19-year-old, reflecting on a first-hurdle exit in qualifying at Roland-Garros 2020.
“I’ve played a lot of tournaments at the WTA Tour, so I feel more confidence when I walk onto the court. I’m not scared anymore when I’m playing this level. So it’s good, I’m enjoying all I’m doing.”
Osorio Serrano certainly didn’t look scared as a 180th-ranked wildcard storming to lift a first WTA title in Bogota last month.
It was a chat with a trailblazing compatriot, which fuelled such an impressive run on home soil.
“Of course, it’s all the work built up over years but also something changed just before Bogota,” the 2019 US Open junior champion said.
“Fabiola Zuluaga (former world No.16) spoke to me and gave me the advice to always believe in myself. I just kept that conversation in the back of my mind and that’s been the difference recently, knowing I can compete at this stage.”
That steely determination also helped the 19-year-old reach back-to-back clay-court semi-finals in Charleston and Belgrade on the road to Roland-Garros.
“It’s been a really special time for me because I’ve worked really hard to get here,” added Osorio Serrano, seeing her ranking crack a new milestone at No.98.
“It was really nice I broke into the top 100, it was one of my goals at the beginning of the year. It’s all come so fast, I didn’t think I could do this until the end of the season, but it shows how much I’m improving.
“But I know from now on the matches are going to be really tough, all of them are going to be like finals. I’ll just try to do my best as always.”
The teenager doesn’t want to look too far ahead, but Romania’s wily Monica Niculescu will be pushed to the limit in their decisive qualifying duel.
“I try to not let players do their game,” the Colombian said. “I’m just a fighter. I give everything, I’m not going to give up, never. Just play point by point and I don’t care about the score.”
Over to British interests and Harriet Dart is making up for lost time on the terre battue.
The world No.143 has featured in the main draw at the other three Grand Slams and feels this could be the year she finally makes it in Paris.
Dart scooped a quarter-final and semi-final on clay in the US prior to jetting to the French capital and maintained that form with a spirited 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 result over Gabriela Talaba.
“Yeah I definitely think it’s different this time around. Last year was my first qualies here. The previous year I had my foot in a boot and then 2018 I was one spot out and didn’t get in,” the 24-year-old said.
“I’m getting more comfortable on clay now, especially after lots of matches in two weeks on it in the States. All be it different on green and red clay, it’s about adjusting and I’m slowly finding my feet, which I’m really pleased about.”
It would “mean everything” to the 31st seed, taking on Liang En-Shuo next, to book a main draw berth.
The Brit is reaping the rewards from hard yards training in Belgrade.
“It’s hugely inspiring. My coach is based at the Tipsarevic Academy,” added Dart, after some practice with former world No.8 Janko Tipsarevic.
“It’s amazing, he has so much experience, knows exactly how you feel, so it’s great to absorb all that.”
Spain’s Nuria Parrizas Diaz overhauled a set deficit to send 2012 finalist Sara Errani out, whilst 13th seed Mayar Sherif was denied another historic run by Jaqueline Cristian in a grueling 7-5, 5-7, 7-6(1) triumph for the Romanian.