Switzerland’s Bacsinszky Aiming To Recapture French Open Main Draw Excitement

Timea Bacsinszky (photo: Roland Garros/twitter)

PARIS, May 21, 2019 (by Michael Dickens)

Twice a semifinalist at Roland Garros (2015, 2017), Timea Bacsinszky of Switzerland has been making the slow climb up the rankings as she recovers from a series of injuries to her thigh, hand and calf. No longer the Top 10 player she once was – her ranking dropped as low as No. 761 last year after reaching a high of No. 9 in 2016 – Bacsinszky, 29, finds herself posited in the women’s qualifying draw hoping to qualify for the season’s second Grand Slam event. Currently, she’s ranked No. 94 and is vying for one of 12 coveted spots in next week’s French Open main draw. She can achieve her goal by stringing together three straight wins.

After she beat then-10th-ranked Daria Kasatkina of Russia in the Australian Open last January, Bacsinszky was quoted as saying, “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.”

On Tuesday, as the No. 3 seed in the women’s 96-player qualifying draw, Bacsinszky faced No. 162 Fanny Stollar, 20, of Hungary, just two years after the Swiss Fed Cup member upset both Venus Williams and Kristina Mladenovic en route to a semifinal appearance against eventual French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko. Bacsinszky beat Stollar, 6-3, 6-4, in one hour and 28 minutes, aided by 14 winners to overcome her 20 unforced errors. Next, she will play No. 236 Kurumi Nara of Japan.

“I’m definitely thrilled,” Bacsinszky said, quoted by the Roland Garros website. “Being able to be back here and win a match again – no matter if it’s qualifying or main draw – is so special. I’m very proud of how I’ve managed to come back and be fit again over this long time. I have no injuries now and I’m feeling good – just some little things hurting left and right, but this is the life of a professional athlete. Nothing worrying.”

Women’s No. 1 seed Bernarda Pera of the United States, ranked No. 83, advanced easily over 406th-ranked French wild card Alizé Lim, 6-1, 6-3. Next, she’ll face Zhang Kai-Lin of China.

Also in action were the last two French Open junior girls’ champions, Americans Cori “Coco” Gauff (reigning champion) and Whitney Osuigwe (2017 champion). The 320th-ranked wild card Gauff, just 15, beat her first-round opponent, India’s No. 1 Anita Raina, ranked No 172, 6-4, 6-4. Meanwhile, the 122nd-ranked Osuigwe, 17, came back to beat No. 232 Myrtille Georges of France, 2-6, 7-6 (3), 7-5. Osuigwe overcame 42 winners by Georges to hit 18 of her own.

In the final women’s match of the day out on Court 11, between Americans Claire Liu and No. 23 seed Sachia Vickery, the No. 159 Liu had a 25 minute hold of service in the ninth game of the third set, in which she saved eight break points from the No. 136 Vickery during a 36-point marathon game. The match, which finally was decided by a final-set tie-break that lasted 15 minutes and took 22 points, was won by Vickery on her fourth match-point opportunity. Vickery advanced over Liu, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (10), in two hours and 54 minutes.

On the men’s side, No. 1 seed Tennys Sandgren of the United States, ranked 87th, advanced to the next round with a 6-2, 6-4 win over No. 217 Yosuke Watanuki of Japan. Other seeds moving on included No. 21 Nikola Milojevic from Serbia and No. 26 Pedro Martinez of Spain.

Lorenzi, Harrison fall

However, two of the top men’s seeds fell. No. 3 seed Paolo Lorenzi of Italy (ranked No. 101 and, at age 37, the oldest in the men’s qualifying draw) lost to No. 230 Enzo Couacaud of France, 4-6, 6-4, 6-0, and No. 9 seed Ryan Harrison of the United States (ranked No. 122) was upset by No. 248 Adam Pavlasek of the Czech Republic, 6-3, 6-7 (5), 7-6 (5).

“It’s fantastic winning in front of a home crowd at Roland-Garros, especially against a clay-court guy who’s got a great career behind him and that feels like one of my best,” said Couacaud, a Mauritius-born Frenchman, interviewed after his win against Lorenzi by the Roland Garros website. Couacaud, who prevailed in this battle among Challenger Tour perennials, said: “I hope for Paolo, it’s not his last match here because he loves the game so much but, obviously, the years are going by and I don’t know how his body is holding up so I just wish him the best.”

A total of 19 of 32 men’s seeds moved into the second round.

Looking ahead to Wednesday

Spread across 10 outer courts at Roland Garros, Wednesday’s order of play includes 16 women’s matches to complete the first round of qualifying and 32 men’s second-round matches. Among the featured matches, men’s top seed Tennys Sandgren of the U.S. will play No. 225 Mats Moraing of Germany, and women’s No. 2 seed Jil Teichmann from Switzerland, ranked No. 87, will face British Fed Cup player Katie Swan, ranked No. 208. Teichmann won the WTA Prague Open earlier this month.

Tuesday’s results

Men’s first round singles
M. Bourgue, France, d. M. Viola, Italy, 4-6, 6-1, 6-3
WC-G. Blancaneaux, France, d. A. Arnaboldi, Italy, 7-6 (5), 3-6, 6-3
No. 1 T. Sandgren, U.S., d. Y. Watanuki, Japan, 6-2, 6-4
A. Pavlasek, Czech Republic, d. R. Harrison, U.S., 6-3, 6-7 (5), 7-6 (5)
L. Miedler, Austria, d. E. Karlovskiy, Russia, 7-5, 6-2
G. Soeda, Japan, d. No. 27 F. Bagnis, Argentina, 6-1, 6-2
M. Basic, Bosnia, d. K. Uchida, Japan, 7-6 (6), 6-3
No. 21 N. Milojevic, Serbia, d. E. Gerasimov, Belarus, 7-5, 6-3
A. Balazs, Hungary, d. S. Keon, South Korea, 7-5, 6-3
No. 26 P. Martinez, Spain, d. C. Eubanks, U.S., 6-4, 6-4
A. Menendez-Maceiras, Spain, d. No. 18 A. Bolt, Australia, 6-2, 6-2
A. De Greef, Belgium, d. I. Marchenko, Ukraine, 5-7, 6-3, 6-2
M. Moraing, Germany, d. A. Martin, Slovakia, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4
T. De Bakker, Netherlands, d. Y. Uchiyama, 6-3, 7-5
E. Couacaud, France, d. No. 3 P. Lorenzi, Italy, 4-6, 6-4, 6-0
D.E. Galan, Columbia, d. C. Berlocq, Argentina, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4

Women’s first round singles
G. Minnen, Belgium, d. WC-M. Yerolymos, France, 7-5, 4-6, 6-4
WC-E. Jacquemot, France, d. B. Eraydin, Turkey, 6-3, 6-1
No. 11 W. Osuigwe, U.S., d. M. Georges, France, 2-6, 7-6 (3) 7-5
WC-Cori Gauff, U.S., d. Ra. Raina, India, 6-4, 6-4
S. Xu, China, d. No. 4 S. Voegele, Switzerland, 6-4, 2-6, 6-3
R. Sramkova, Slovakia, d. No. 24, S. Peng, 3-6, 7-5 (5), 6-0
A. Shimizu, Japan, d. F. Liu, China, 6-1, 2-6, 6-2
No. 3 T. Bacsinszky, Switzerland, d. F. Stollar, Hungary, 6-3, 6-4
No. 21 K. Juvan, Slovenia, d. S. Celik, Sweden, 6-1, 6-0
R. Hogenkamp, Netherlands, d. M. Frech, Poland, 6-4, 1-6, 6-3
K.L. Zhang, China, d. T. Mrdeza, Croatia, 6-4, 6-2
A. Bolsova, Spain, d. K. Ahn, U.S., 6-1, 6-4
A. Kiick, U.S., d. O. Dodin, France, 6-0, 6-4
No. 10 M. Bouzkova, Czech Republic, d. T. Martincova, Czech Republic, 6-3, 6-3
R. Oprandi, Switzerland, d. Y. In-Albon, Switzerland, 6-3, 6-1
L. Samsonova, Russia, d. M. Di Giuseppe, Italy, 6-7 (4), 7-5, 7-6 (2)
J. Paolini, Italy, d. A. Zaja, Germany, 6-2, 6-4
G. Garcia Perez, Spain, d. N. Han, South Korea, 6-3, 6-3
No. 19 V. Lepchenko, U.S., d. A. Kalinskaya, Russia, 7-6 (5), 6-4
S. Zhuk, Russia, d. No. 20 A. Rus, Netherlands, 6-1, 6-4
No. 13 O. Danilovic, Serbia, d. S. Sharapova, Uzbekistan, 6-1, 5-7, 6-3
M. Trevisan d. No. 14 T. Smitkova, Czech Republic, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2
K. Nara, Japan, d. K. Kawa, Poland, 6-2, 1-6, 7-5
A. Lottner, Germany, d. No. 7 Y. Bonaventure, Belgium, 6-4, 7-6 (4)
No. 8 N. Vikhlyantseva, Russia, d. Y. Wickmayer, Belgium, 6-3, 6-0
A. Blinkova, Russia, d. WC-L. Bencheikh, France, 6-3, 6-2
No. 12 N. Hibino, Japan, d. WC-M. Leonard, France, 6-2, 7-6 (6)
No. 1 B. Pera, U.S., d. WC-A. Lim, France, 6-1, 6-3
T. Babos, Hungary, d. D. Kovinic, Montenegro, 6-2, 6-2
K. Von Deichmann, Liechtenstein, d. L. Kerkove, Netherlands, 3-6, 6-4, 6–0
A. Kalinina, Ukraine, d. I. Bara, Romania, 2-6, 7-6 (1), 6-2
No 23. S. Vickery d. C. Liu, U.S., 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (10)