Evergreen Errani smiling for success

The race to reach the main draw continued in Paris on Tuesday

Sara Errani, 1er tour, qualifications, Roland-Garros 2024©Philippe Montigny / FFT
 - Alex Sharp

Top seed Sara Errani led the charge in women's qualifying at Roland-Garros 2024 on Tuesday.

The 2012 finalist began her campaign to book a 14th main draw ticket in Paris with a 6-3, 6-4 scoreboard over American Ann Li on Court Suzanne-Lenglen.

Errani fended off a second set fightback from the world No.178 and was relieved to close it out in straight sets.

Sara Errani, qualifying, Roland-Garros 2024©Philippe Montigny / FFT

"Very happy of course. Not easy coming last minute from Rome, I'm pretty tired. I know she's a really good player," said Errani, who had won the Italian Open doubles title with compatriot Jasmine Paolini 48 hours earlier. "I was 4-1, 5-2 up [in the second set] and I had to be brave at the end, it was tough to close out."

The 37-year-old continues to relish the relentless yet rewarding nature of the Tour. 

"I'm playing with a smile because it's still a pleasure for me to compete in this sport," said the former world No.5.

"I'm trying to give everything every time I head onto the court. I love to watch it, at all levels, I love to watch all types of players. I just love tennis."

It's 12 years since Errani was runner-up to Maria Sharapova in the final on Court Philippe-Chatrier. The Italian has had to adapt to remain in the hunt for deep runs at majors. 

"I think the game now, after so many years, has so much more power now," added Errani. "That makes it all very difficult for me. Also, I'm really old, so physically it's not the same for me anymore.

"Everybody is stronger, hitting harder than many years ago, so I have to come up with different answers, changing the height of the ball, drop shots, sometimes the net. I have to be smart and play intelligent tennis to put my opponents in tricky positions."

The top seed advances to meet French wild card Alice Tubello. The 23-year-old battled back 5-7, 7-6(6), 6-1 to navigate past Yang Ya Yi.

Tamara Zidansek, qualifying, Roland-Garros 2024©Remy Chautard / FFT

Just three years ago Tamara Zidansek catapulted into the semi-finals in Paris. It was a dream run, a career-changing fortnight.

"This is something I'm going to remember for the rest of my life. I hope that I can get anywhere near as close as that, make it happen again, make it even better," said the Slovenian, who beat Polona Hercog 6-2, 6-4 on Tuesday.

"But that's the outcome, I'm trying to focus on what I can do best every day and hopefully I can go far again.

"I always feel at home here at Roland-Garros, it's my surface and I have good memories here. First round, no matter what tournament, is always tough, especially facing an experienced opponent from my home country."

The world No.131 has been here before, having qualified for the Roland-Garros main draw last summer and the 26-year-old is intent on feeding off that experience. 

"It does help because first round of qualies is tough, second round is a little bit easier, third round is the hardest," reflected Zidansek.

Tamara Zidansek, qualifying, Roland-Garros 2024©Remy Chautard / FFT

"It's emotional and not something that can be taken for granted. We see more qualifiers going further in main draws, its strong, everyone can play top tennis and are everyone is a good competitor."

Since last November Zidansek has been wrestling with a shoulder injury and then being diagnosed with bacterial pneumonia. Both issues have cleared up and the world No.131 feels she can finally trouble the established order once again.

"It's been tough, up and down, searching for what suits you best. It's also personal dynamics, trying to get a good team around me," continued the former world No.22, comparing to her 2021 self.

"I feel like if I focus purely on tennis, I feel I've improved, but there are a lot of factors which influence your play. Hopefully I can get back on that track."

Leolea Jeanjean, qualifying, Roland-Garros 2024©Clement Mahoudeau / FFT

Zidansek, keen to carve out time to make a maiden visit to The Louvre museum, takes on German Noma Noha Akugue in the second round. 

There was another French reason to celebrate for the Parisian crowds as Leolia Jeanjean dispatched Romanian Andreea Mitu 7-5, 6-2. No.8 seed Katie Volynets swept aside world No.171 Lucrezia Stefanini 6-2, 6-1.

No.11 seed Olga Danilovic evaded danger in a 6-1, 4-6, 6-1 victory over Anca Alexia Todoni, whilst No.17 seed Daria Snigur posted a 7-5, 6-2 win against Greek Despina Papamichail.