The second day of Wimbledon qualifying saw victories for both grass-court novices and experts.
No.1 seed Maria Camila Osorio Serrano scored the first win of her professional career in a 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 thriller over Liang En-Shuo. At the other end of the spectrum, No.8 seed and former Wimbledon semifinalist Tsvetana Pironkova needed only 57 minutes to dismiss Usue Maitane Arconada 6-1, 6-0.
Colombia's Osorio Serrano surged on clay this year, with her 16-3 record including a maiden title on home soil in Bogota. A tantalising clash against Liang - like Osorio Serrano, a former junior Grand Slam champion who had qualified for her Grand Slam main draw debut at Roland Garros - did not disappoint.
Initially, neither player seemed sure of her shots working on grass. Osorio Serrano, 19, got to grips with it first, using sharp angles and deft slices to work Liang around the court.
But once the 20-year-old Chinese Taipei player found her rhythm with her forehand, she began to hit through Osorio Serrano, whose defence was not quite as impermeable as it had been on clay. Liang found a series of spectacular shots, including a wonderful stop volley in the seventh game, to go up a break three times in the deciding set.
Osorio Serrano's never-say-die attitude is surface-agnostic, though. Cries of "vamos!" echoed around Roehampton as she willed herself to outlast Liang, who sent a tired-looking slice into the net to concede match point.
Pironkova, Smitkova, Konjuh draw on grass memories for victories
By contrast, Pironkova was in full flow as she notched up the 53rd grass-court win of her career. The 33-year-old Bulgarian reached the last four of Wimbledon in 2010 and another quarterfinal at SW19 the following year; her comeback from maternity leave saw her make the US Open quarterfinals last year in her first tournament in three years.
Pironkova had retired from her Nottingham ITF W100 semifinal against Arina Rodionova four days ago, but showed no ill effects as she fired 24 winners in 13 games against Arconada. The former World No.31 dropped just seven games in a second-set whitewash.
Pironkova was not the only victor drawing on fond Wimbledon memories. Back in 2014, Tereza Smitkova qualified for her Grand Slam debut at the Championships and went all the way to the fourth round, defeating Hsieh Su-Wei and CoCo Vandeweghe en route.
The Czech has not competed in a WTA main draw since Lugano 2019 and has fallen to World No.487, but her dangerous flat hitting garnered her 39 winners as she came from a set and a break down to best Jaqueline Cristian 5-7, 7-6(1), 6-2.
Also happy to be back on grass was 2015 Nottingham champion Ana Konjuh. The Croat's comeback from a fourth elbow surgery continued apace with a 6-1, 6-2 defeat of 16-year-old wildcard Matilda Mutavdzic in just 66 minutes. Konjuh racked up 27 winners to the British teenager's one.
2010: semi-finalist— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) June 23, 2021
Tsvetana Pironkova is on course for the main draw following a three-year absence#Wimbledon
McNally, Burel, Wang Xiyu represent for Generation 2001
There were two intriguing first-round battles between 2001-born talents who have been knocking on the door of a breakthrough. No.6 seed Caty McNally progress 4-6, 6-1, 6-2 over Olga Danilovic. The American made her Grand Slam debut by qualifying for Wimbledon 2019, and spoke that year about her fondness for a surface that enhanced her slices and volleys.
McNally's old-school game was overpowered at first; the power of Danilovic's returns meant that serve-and-volleying was a losing tactic, and the Serb crunched a backhand winner to take a set lead. But McNally gradually wove a winning web, luring Danilovic into softer slice rallies where she was able to deploy all of her finesse.
Elsewhere, No.31 seed Clara Burel, a former junior World No.1 who reached the third round of Roland Garros last year, edged fellow 2001-born peer Maja Chwalinska 7-6(5), 6-4; and No.29 seed Wang Xiyu powered past Marina Melnikova 6-3, 6-3. In total, seven players born in 2001 made it to the second round: McNally, Burel and Wang joined Osorio Serrano, Katie Volynets, Wang Xinyu and Kamilla Rakhimova.
Bondarenko, Flink fly flag for tour mothers
Working mothers and matches between them have become commonplace on the WTA Tour over the past decade, but even so the clash between Kateryna Bondarenko and Mandy Minella was unique. The pair of former Top 100 players are both mothers of two, and have thus embarked on the comeback trail from maternity leave twice.
Former World No.29 Bondarenko, 34, who won her first title on grass at Birmingham 2008, has been back for longer: the Ukrainian had her second daughter Eva in 2019 and resumed her career at the end of that season. Minella, 35, gave birth to her own second daughter Maya in December, returned in April, and was competing in the eighth event of her comeback.
Bondarenko came out on top of a seesaw battle 6-2, 2-6, 6-1 to become one of four mothers in the second round, joining Pironkova, Olga Govortsova and Varvara Flink.
Flink, who gave birth to her first daughter Kaya last November, scored the first win of her comeback over Mariam Bolkvadze 6-4, 2-6, 6-4. The 24-year-old Russian had qualified for her first Grand Slam main draw here two years ago, posting a memorable victory over Elena Rybakina in the final round, but had lost her first seven matches since returning to action in February.
Niemeier, Liu, Sharma reach final round
Second-round qualifying action also kicked off in the late afternoon at Roehampton. Fast-rising German 21-year-old Jule Niemeier continued to impress on her Grand Slam qualifying debut, upsetting No.11 seed Mayar Sherif 6-4, 6-3.
Elsewhere, No.16 seed and 2017 Wimbledon junior champion Claire Liu continued a resurgent year, defeating Isabella Shinikova 6-4, 6-3 to take her season record to 29-10. No.19 seed Astra Sharma, who won her maiden WTA title at the MUSC Health Women's Open in Charleston two months ago, also made it through. The Australian had to battle for two hours and 25 minutes before overcoming Kristina Kucova 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-3.