Women's qualifying: Five to watch

 - Ian Chadband

Compelling clashes abound when action begins at Roland-Garros on Tuesday.

Timea Bacsinszky has reached the quarter-finals or better the last three times she has visited Roland-Garros © Nicolas Gouhier / FFT

The road to becoming one of the 12 women qualifiers for the main draw starts on Tuesday with three of the younger contestants already having enjoyed the taste of winning a title at Roland-Garros and one of the main attractions being a popular stalwart on the comeback trail. Here are five players worth keeping an eye out for this week.

Timea Bacsinszky

Twice a semi-finalist at Roland-Garros, the last time just a couple of seasons ago, life on the circuit since then has been tough for the popular 29-year-old Swiss as constant battles with thigh, hand and calf injuries saw the former top-tenner plummet to as low as 761 in the rankings last year.

Far too good a player and too tough a warrior to be disheartened by all this, she has fought her way back into the top 100 and, with her pedigree, the third seed in the qualifiers won’t be just expecting to make it into the main draw but also to enjoy the sort of run that saw her beat Venus Williams and pre-tournament favourite Kristina Mladenovic before running into the unstoppable Jelena Ostapenko in the last-four in 2017.

Once again, her return to form has showcased the considerable fighting spirit that has seen her overcome so many off-court obstacles during her career as she looks forward to facing promising 20-year-old Hungarian Fanny Stollar in the opening round on Tuesday.

“There are always moments of doubt that you cross when nothing is simple. And then there are moments like today, where you say that everything is wonderful,” Bacsinszky sighed after beating the 10th-ranked Daria Kasatkina at the Australian Open in January. It is good to see her back.

Cori Gauff 

The reigning Roland-Garros girls’ champion has been given a well-deserved wildcard to enjoy a pressure-free crack at making the main draw this year - at the tender age of 15.

“Coco”, as she’s known, has been hailed as a phenomenal talent, not only becoming the second-youngest Roland-Garros junior winner last year but also becoming the youngest to reach the US Open girls’ singles final.

This year, Coco, who had a spell as the world junior No.1 before being overtaken by Denmark’s Australian Open junior champion Clara Tauson, has already won her first WTA-level match in the Miami Open against Catherine McNally, her opponent in last year’s Roland-Garros final.

The girl from Delray Beach, Florida, who has had to bear the unenviable burden of being the latest starlet to be hailed “the new Serena”, was the youngest player in a decade to win a tour main-draw match and is currently the youngest player with a WTA ranking. She’s No.320 - and rising fast.

Her opening round opponent is India’s No.1 Ankita Raina, who is ranked 149 places higher than the youngster on the WTA computer.  

Whitney Osuigwe 

Another American comet to savour, Osuigwe also won the Roland-Garros junior crown, back in 2017, and has used her success as a springboard to what promises to be a fine career.

Having risen to No.124 in the world at just 17, the 2017 ITF junior world champion, who has targeted a top-100 place by the end of the year, could prove dangerous to anyone on the clay, having won one ITF event and reached the final of another on that surface within the past month.

> ORDER OF PLAY: Tuesday 21 May

Being at Roland-Garros always seems to provide the young Floridan with a fresh spring in her step.

“Winning the junior title definitely helped my pro career because it’s given me a lot of confidence and shown me what I’m capable of doing in the sport,” she said.

And what she hopes to achieve in the sport is encapsulated in the Nicki Minaj anthem she listens to almost every time before she steps on court and will do again before she faces France’s world No.232 Myrtille Georges on Tuesday. It’s called “I’m the best.”

Jil Teichmann

Having grown up learning her trade on the courts of the Real Club de Tenis Barcelona, the rising 21-year-old Teichmann, who moved back from Spain to her native Switzerland with her family seven years ago, made a huge breakthrough at the start of the month when she won her first WTA tournament at the Prague Open.

The triumph for the former world junior No.3, which catapulted her into the top 100 for the first time, was a remarkable hard-earned affair which saw her have to negotiate the qualifiers and beat eight players in eight consecutive days, including former Roland-Garros champion Svetlana Kuznetsova in the second round.

The news delighted her high-profile supporter from the football world, the Liverpool and Switzerland midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri, who helped finance her fledgling career.

Teichmann, who still trains in Spain under the tutelage of Alberto Martin, meets one of Britain’s bright young hopes, 20-year-old Katie Swan, the world No.183, in the first round.

Paula Badosa Gibert

The third of our former Roland-Garros junior champions to be on the qualifying trail is the 21-year-old New York-born Spaniard Badosa Gibert, who enjoyed the best moment of her career to date when she beat Russia’s Anna Kalinskaya in the 2015 final.

A tall baseliner with an attacking game who cites Rafael Nadal as her idol, the Begur-based Badosa Gibert, who became Spanish national champion in 2017 when she beat Carla Suarez Navarro in the final, will have a tough test in her opening round against Germany’s Tamara Korpatsch, who is ranked 16 places below her.

View this post on Instagram

Disfrutando del camino 👣

A post shared by Paula Badosa Gibert (@paulabadosa15) on