Marozsan to Hanfmann: Five to watch in men’s qualifying

Pursuit of 16 main draw spots is at stake when Roland-Garros starts on Monday

Fabian Marozsan, Rome, third round©Corinne Dubreuil/FFT
 - Dan Imhoff

Former world No.14 Aslan Karatsev heads 128 men attempting to cut a path through Roland-Garros qualifying from Monday.

That draw will be whittled down to 16 when the likes of former top-tenner Lucas Pouille, ex-top-20 player Pablo Cuevas, teenager Luca Nardi, and 2020 Roland-Garros junior champion Dominic Stricker chase main draw berths.


These are five names to watch as qualifying action begins.

Fabian Marozsan (HUN)

Unheralded Hungarian Fabian Marozsan admitted he “just tried to do something special” heading into the biggest match of his burgeoning career in Rome this month.

That something special entailed “maybe winning a few games or a set”, he said before pulling off the seemingly unthinkable upset of world No.2 Carlos Alcaraz to reach the fourth round.

The 135th-ranked qualifier was competing in his first ATP main draw, while Alcaraz already boasted a 30-2 mark for the season.

Less than a month prior, the 23-year-old succumbed in the opening round of a Challenger event in Rome. How quickly he flipped his fortunes upon his return to the Italian capital before Borna Coric brought his run to an end.

The 25th seed opens his qualifying campaign against Australian Li Tu.

Aslan Karatsev

The first man in the Open Era to reach the semi-finals in his Grand Slam debut, Karatsev’s breakout at the Australian Open as a qualifier in 2021 set the wheels in motion for an ascent to world No.14 as recently as last February.

A powerful ball-striker off both wings, the 29-year-old went on to land the silverware in Dubai and toppled then No.1 Novak Djokovic to reach the Serbia Open final.

Backing it up since has proved elusive until another blinding run as a qualifier – this time in Madrid this month – catapulted him back to the verge of the top 50.

There he denied seeds Botic van de Zandschulp, Alex de Minaur and world No.3 Daniil Medvedev en route.

The top seed faces a tough out as he opens his bid for a third straight Paris main draw against French former world No.36 Pierre-Hugues Herbert.

Aslan Karatsev, Madrid, semi-final© Antoine Couvercelle/FFT

Yannick Hanfmann (GER)

Marozsan and Karatsev were not the only qualifiers making waves in the clay-court Masters 1000 events this year.

German Yannick Hanfmann won through to the main draw and reached the third round in Madrid at the expense of 15th seed Lorenzo Musetti, before pressing even further across the Mediterranean weeks later.

In Rome he qualified a tour-leading sixth time this season and defeated two top-10 opponents – Taylor Fritz and Andrey Rublev – en route to the quarter-finals before Medvedev halted him.

It was enough to elevate the 31-year-old to a new career-high mark of world No.65.

The second seed starts his qualifying campaign against Italian Mattia Bellucci.

Yannick Hanfmann, Rome, quarter-final©Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

Dominic Stricker (SUI)

Former Roland-Garros junior champion Dominic Stricker continues his search for a Grand Slam main draw debut, having bowed out in qualifying at the previous five majors.

The 20-year-old came agonisingly close at Melbourne Park this January only to fall at the final hurdle.

Upon the switch to clay the Swiss southpaw picked up his fifth Challenger title in Prague this month – his second of the season – downing the likes of former top-30 player Filip Krajinovic and Austrian Sebastian Ofner.

He became the only Swiss player to own five Challenger titles before turning 21 and closed to within reach of the top 100.

The ninth seed launches his qualifying bid against Dutchman Jelle Sels.

Zsombor Piros (HUN)

A second 23-year-old Hungarian making giant strides on clay leading in, Zsombor Piros has climbed to world No.121, just three places shy of his career-best mark.

The 2017 Australian Open boy’s singles champion reeled off 10 straight wins – including over compatriot Marozsan – for back-to-back Challenger titles in Portugal and Croatia this month, dropping just one set in the process.

It came amid a run of six straight quarter-finals at that level on clay.

Five times Piros has attempted to qualify for a Grand Slam main draw only to come up short, including in the final rounds at this year’s Australian Open, and Wimbledon and Roland-Garros last year.

The 13th seed begins against German Dominik Koepfer.

The opening week of Roland-Garros is a chance to support your favourite players in their quests for main draw berths.

Throughout the week, you can also hit the stands on Court Philippe-Chatrier to watch the biggest names practise.

Don't forget to take part in the off-court activities around the grounds.