World No.1 Iga Swiatek’s incredible performances and results continue to turn heads, impacting plenty of her peers.
Take Oksana Selekhmeteva.
Junior success has translated into a main draw opportunity for teenage talent
After soaring into her maiden Grand Slam main draw on the back of a commanding qualifying campaign, the 19-year-old took some time to reminisce about the first time she set foot at Roland-Garros.
“The first time I was here in the juniors at 15, we were playing with Iga Swiatek. It’s really impressive how she has improved so much, so quickly,” stated the world No.162.
“It’s really inspiring, just looking at her gives me this energy, I love how she plays. It gives me a lot of motivation that maybe I can do it one day.”
Selekhmeteva could hardly believe her achievement, advancing 6-1, 6-4 versus France’s Oceane Babel, just a year on from lifting the girls’ doubles trophy at Roland-Garros.
“It’s my first Grand Slam as a pro, I was still playing juniors last season. I’m really happy with this, my tennis, my attitude, so it’s really exciting,” continued the teenager, who also reached the semi-finals in girls' singles last summer in Paris.
“I don’t feel any pressure, I love clay, I just love this place, the public, even if they are against me, the atmosphere is just giving me power and energy.”
Within the past 12 months Selekhmeteva has stepped up to the top table, plying her trade with an incremental dedication and determination.
“I think my tennis has always been there, I just changed my mentality a bit more positive on court. Off court I’m trying to be as professional as possible. The level keeps increasing, up and up, so I need to be focused on tennis 24/7,” claimed the powerful left-hander.
“Not only are we playing for points, we are playing for money, it’s our job. That gives everyone a real push, it’s not a hobby so everyone is fighting for every single point that is possible.”
Elsewhere, sixth seed Rebecca Marino returned to the main draw for the first time since 2011, chalking up 6-2, 6-0 against Seone Mendez.
Staring at the exit, Lesia Tsurenko erased match point at 5-6 in the second set to eventually prevail 2-6, 7-6(0), 6-2 past Yuki Naito.
Tears began to flow for Olga Danilovic, banishing an injury-maligned year to qualify for Roland-Garros at the fourth attempt, posting a 6-2, 1-6, 7-6 (10/3) win over 10th seed Viktoriya Tomova.
Mexican Fernanda Contreras Gomez has grasped a Grand Slam debut, emerging 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 versus Joanne Zuger, whilst Valentini Grammatikopoulou edged Christina McHale in straight sets to extend her Parisian journey.
Over in the men’s event, 2018 boys’ champion Tseng Chun-Hsin had all the answers 6-3, 6-3 facing Cedrik-Marcel Stebe. World No.143 Pavel Kotov dismissed in-form Argentine Pedro Cachin 6-3, 6-2, joining Peru’s Juan Pablo Varillas and 10th seed Norbert Gombos in the main draw.