Last year's Roland Garros junior champion Linda Noskova took another step towards her main-draw debut with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 win over Conny Perrin in the second round of qualifying.
Noskova has risen from No.659 to her current No.185 in the rankings over the past 12 months, but has yet to compete in a tour-level main draw. Over the course of 2 hours and 3 minutes, she got to grips with the idiosyncratic variety of 31-year-old Perrin's game, and was particularly impressive down the home stretch.
Noskova triumphs in 2021 French Open junior singles final
Having dropped serve to go down 3-2 in the third set, Noskova responded by rattling off 14 straight points, and ultimately 16 of the last 18, sealing her first match point with an emphatic smash.
However, Noskova's fellow Czech 17-year-old Linda Fruhvirtova fell 7-5, 3-6, 7-5 to Viktoria Kuzmova. No.192-ranked Fruhvirtova led Kuzmova by a 4-1 double break in the final set, but it was the powerful Slovak who held firm to mount a comeback.
Kuzmova, who reached a career high of No.43 in 2019 but has since fallen to No.191, saved five break points in a crucial game to hold for 5-4 in the decider. She sealed victory after 2 hours and 30 minutes when Fruhvirtova committed her fourth double fault down match point.
Game 🔛— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) May 18, 2022
Anastasia Kulikova eliminates top seeded qualifier Anastasia Potapova 5-7, 7-6(5), 6-3#RolandGarros pic.twitter.com/VVt3AhxIKp
Kulikova saves match points, stuns top seed Potapova
Anastasia Kulikova pulled off the biggest upset of the qualifying rounds, taking out No.1 seed Anastasia Potapova 5-7, 7-6(5), 6-3 in 2 hours and 43 minutes after saving two match points.
Kulikova is the first Finnish woman to compete in a Grand Slam qualifying draw since Emma Laine at the 2007 US Open, and will bid to become the first in a main draw since Laine at Roland Garros in the same year. The 22-year-old cracked the Top 200 for the first time this week after winning the Split ITF W25 title, and impressed with a hefty forehand that helped garner her 44 winners in total.
The match was Kulikova's first meeting with a Top 100 player. Potapova had shown signs of resurgence last month when she collected her first Hologic WTA Tour title in Istanbul, but squandered double match point at 6-5 in the second set.
One win away from the main draw…— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) May 18, 2022
Vekic def. Chirico 6-0, 3-6, 7-5
Kuzmova def. Fruhvirtova 7-5, 3-6, 7-5
Krunic def. Min 3-6, 7-5, 7-5
Keep up with all the action 👉 https://t.co/CCppX0VmrN#RolandGarros pic.twitter.com/WUYPxJiURX
High seeds who did manage to progress included No.2 Jule Niemeier, who dispatched Jessika Ponchet 6-4, 6-0 in 70 minutes; No.3 Zhu Lin, who eased past Natalia Vikhlyantseva 6-1, 6-2 in 69 minutes; and No.5 Irina Bara, who needed 3 hours and 2 minutes to overcome wildcard Selena Janicijevic 5-7, 6-4, 6-3.
However, 2020 quarterfinalist Laura Siegemund's comeback from knee surgery continued apace as the German took out No.4 seed Wang Xiyu 6-3, 6-3.
Uchijima, Naito, Hibino fly flag for Japan
A trio of Japanese players reached the last round of qualifying with fine wins to buck their nation's history on clay. Moyuka Uchijima, 20, continued a stellar Grand Slam qualifying debut by defeating Liechtenstein's Kathinka Von Deichmann 3-6, 6-4, 6-2. Uchijima only returned to action following the Covid-19 shutdown last August, and has compiled a 53-16 record since then on the ITF World Tour, including five titles.
Yuki Naito, 21, has previously excelled on clay, with five of her six ITF titles coming on the terre battue. The World No.219 also came from a set down, advancing 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 past Katharina Gerlach.
The young pair were joined by former World No.56 Nao Hibino, who needed seven set points to close out the first set but eventually beat Yuliya Hatouka 7-6(7), 6-2.