Seven Australian players are still left scrapping for places in the French Open main draw after Lizette Cabrera joined her winning compatriots with a first-round success in qualifying at Roland Garros.
Battling through three draining rounds on the red clay just to reach the main draw at Roland Garros is always the most formidable ask for any grand slam hopeful.
But Queenslander Cabrera, who’s aiming to make it into the big show for the first time in four attempts, has enjoyed an encouraging start in Paris, spoiling the party on Court 9 on Tuesday by sweeping past French hope Emeline Dartron 6-3 6-1.
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The 24-year-old Townsville player with a Filipino background is one of five women and two men from the original list of a dozen Australians in the draw still left in the qualifying battle.
After Melbourne-based Ellen Perez got knocked out 6-4 6-2 by Swiss Susan Bandecchi in the first round on Tuesday, the Australian survivors will all be in action in Wednesday’s second round on the outside courts at Roland Garros.
Aleksandar Vukic, the 18th qualifying seed, and Jason Kubler are the last two Australian men still standing, while Jaimee Fourlis, Seone Mendez, Arina Rodionova and Priscilla Hon will join Cabrera in the fight for the 16 women’s places up for grabs.
The biggest story in qualifying so far was the end of Feliciano Lopez’s extraordinary record of featuring in 79 consecutive grand slam main draws, a landmark that stretched back to the French Open in 2001.
Going for No.80 and a 22nd successive main draw appearance at Roland Garros, the 40-year-old Spaniard got beaten 6-1 7-6 (7-4) by Italian Gian Marco Moroni on Tuesday.
But another celebrated Spanish left-hander Fernando Verdasco marched on after a thriller against defiant Bosnian Damir Dzumhur, who saved seven match points in the second set before finally going down 6-2 5-7 6-1.