Potapova to Vekic: Five to watch in women's qualifying

 - Dan Imhoff

Battle for RG2022 main draw spots kicks off on Monday

Anastasia Potapova, Roland Garros 2021, first round© Loïc Wacziak/FFT

Sixteen more women will be added to the Roland-Garros main draw at the conclusion of qualifying, with the field of 128 hopefuls beginning their campaigns on Monday.

Anastasia Potapova is the top seed, while 2012 finalist Sara Errani, and former top 20 player Donna Vekic join the likes of 17-year-old Czechs, Linda Fruhvirtova and last year’s Roland-Garros girls’ champion Linda Noskova.


These are five standout names to keep an eye out for in qualifying action.

Anastasia Potapova

Former junior No.1 Anastasia Potapova is bidding for a return to her third Roland-Garros main draw, where in 2019, she defeated three-time major champion Angelique Kerber in the opening round.

The 19-year-old has surged back to world No.76 – only 12 spots shy of her career-best mark – courtesy of her first WTA title in Istanbul last month.

As a qualifier there, she beat the likes of former Roland-Garros quarter-finalists Petra Martic and Yulia Putintseva, and world No.28 Veronika Kudermetova for the trophy.

Last season, Potapova claimed wins over the likes of Madison Keys and Belinda Bencic to reach her first WTA 1000 quarter-final in Dubai.

She also gained the better of Roland-Garros runner-up Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in Istanbul and Shelby Rogers in Montreal, while her best run at a major came at the Australian Open, where she reached the third round and held set points against Serena Williams.

Her qualifying campaign this week begins against Mexico's Renata Zarazua.

Donna Vekic (CRO)

A career set of fourth-round showings at all majors finally came for Donna Vekic at last year’s Australian Open but it would be a rare highlight in a season derailed by a right knee surgery soon after.

Last October, in only her second event back since the operation, Vekic did not drop a set in winning her first title in four years over Clara Tauson in Italy. 

There have been gradual inroads since on the Croat’s comeback.

The 25-year-old snapped a three-match losing streak this week with a win over sixth seed Potapova en route to the quarter-finals at the WTA125 event in Paris, where she fell to this year’s Australian Open quarter-finalist Kaia Kanepi.

The former world No.19, who downed Belinda Bencic to reach the fourth round in Paris for the first time three years ago, is shooting for a 10th straight main draw appearance here in 2022.

She begins in qualifying against American Robin Anderson first up.

Roland-Garros 2019 / Donna Vekic©Philippe Montigny / FFT

Laura Pigossi (BRA)

A breakout run on South American clay has come at an opportune time for Laura Pigossi as she prepares to make her Grand Slam qualifying debut at age 27.

When the Brazilian entered qualifying for the WTA 250 clay-court event in Bogota last month she held a world ranking of No.212 and had not won more than two matches in a row since a lowly ITF event on home soil last November.

A run through qualifying was just the beginning as Pigossi drew on the self-assuredness she had built following a surprise Olympic bronze medal in women’s doubles last year alongside Luisa Stefani in Tokyo.

Pigossi saved match points against Dayana Yastremska and landed her first top-50 victory over top-seeded local Maria Osorio Serrano, before Tatiana Maria ended her run in her maiden tour-level final.

The Sao Paulo native, who trains in in Barcelona, opens her qualifying campaign against 18-year-old German Nastasja Schunk.

Linda Fruhvirtova (CZE)

It would be premature to predict whether the next great teenage Czech sensation, the recently turned 17-year-old Linda Fruhvirtova, and her highly touted sister, Brenda, 15, will live up to expectations as the next sister act to leave a mark on the women’s tour.

With unflinching conviction, however, the elder of the two sisters has set her own benchmark for ultimate success high.

 “I have always answered that [by saying] I want to reach No.1,” she said, after notching her first top-25 triumph over Elise Mertens in Miami in March.

“I want to win Grand Slam titles, which hasn’t changed.”

Linda went on to reach the fourth round in Miami with a win over ex-world No.1 Victoria Azarenka before she fell to fifth seed Paula Badosa.

Earlier this season, she won an ITF event in Mexico and has found some form on clay.

While she bowed out to Kaia Kanepi in her Madrid debut – and again in this week’s WTA125 event in Paris – she beat former top-20 player Ana Konjuh in Charleston before falling to eventual champion Bencic.

Fruhvirtova takes on Katarzyna Kawa of Poland in her Roland-Garros qualifying debut.

Linda Fruhvirtova, Roland Garros 2021, girls' singles first round© Philippe Montigny/FFT

Wang Xiyu (CHN)

Left-handed Wang Xiyu looks to carry a hot streak on green clay to red clay as she attempts to qualify for Roland-Garros for a second straight year.

The 21-year-old struck form on the green clay in the US recently.

At the WTA 500 event in Charleston last month, she led eventual champion Bencic by a set and 5-3 in the first round, only to fall in three sets.

Far from dismayed, Wang has won 15 of 19 matches on the surface since.

The 2018 US Open junior champion, who landed wins on clay last year over the likes of Alize Cornet, has reached the final in her subsequent three ITF events.

The Chinese player won her first Grand Slam main draw singles match at this year’s Australian Open where she downed Viktoria Kuzmova before running into Roland-Garros champion Barbora Krejcikova.

She faces fellow southpaw, South Korean Han Na-lae, in her opening qualifying match in Paris.

Wang Xiyu, Roland Garros 2021 first round© Clément Mahoudeau/FFT