Nine players will break new ground at Roland Garros 2022 by contesting the main draw of a Grand Slam for the first time. Get to know them here.
Mirjam Bjorklund (SWE)
Sweden's Mirjam Bjorklund made her WTA debut as a wildcard at Bastad 2017, but it's in the past 10 months that the 23-year-old has been hitting her stride. In that time, she has won three ITF W25 titles in Koksijde, Austin and Orlando; reached her first WTA quarterfinal in Bogota this April; and cut her ranking from No.360 to her current No.150.
Bjorklund ascribes her success to a successful partnership with coach Jonas Bjorkman, the former ATP No.4, with whom she has developed her slices and net game. These came in handy when she captured the Bastad WTA 125 doubles title last July alongside Leonie Kung: "I'm not a doubles specialist, but it shows you can win if you do the right thing," she told tennis.se.
Having made it to the final round on her Grand Slam qualifying debut at the Australian Open, Bjorklund went one better at the second time of asking with a dominant route to the main draw. She dropped only 15 games in three matches, ending with a 6-1, 6-3 win over former World No.20 Mihaela Buzarnescu, and wll face fellow qualifier Donna Vekic in the first round.
Fernanda Contreras Gomez (MEX)
Few, if any, professional tennis players can boast that they have helped design and build robotic circuits as part of a mechatronics class on their resume. Fernanda Contreras Gomez, though, thrived both on and off court during her time at Vanderbilt, where she was named a three-time all-American during a successful college tennis career while also majoring in mechanical engineering -- a subject other universities considered too challenging to combine with student athletics.
Since graduating in 2019, Contreras Gomez has been getting to grips with the pro tennis circuit. That year, she captured her first ITF W25 title in Waco, defeating future US Open finalist Leylah Fernandez in the final. In 2020, she was voted the Billie Jean King Cup Heart Award winner for her standout performances playing for Mexico.
In January this year, the 24-year-old made the long trip to Australia hoping to make her Grand Slam qualifying debut, but missed the cut by only six places. Now ranked No.224, she has made up for that in Paris, reaching the main draw at the first time of asking via a trio of three-set wins over Caty McNally, Ipek Oz and Joanne Zuger. Indeed, Roland Garros will be Contreras Gomez's first tour-level main draw, and she will debut against Panna Udvardy in the first round.
No stranger to an upset, Anastasia Gasanova has been making her presence known at tour level for the past one-and-a-half years. In her first WTA main draw and playing a Top 100 player for the first time, she scored an eye-catching upset of Karolina Pliskova to reach the third round of Abu Dhabi 2021. At No.292, Gasanova was the lowest-ranked player to score a Top 10 win last year (aside from the unranked Olivia Gadecki).
Indeed, Gasanova remains unbeaten against Top 45 players. She went on to upset Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova at St. Petersburg 2021, Jil Teichmann at Cluj-Napoca 2021 and Elina Svitolina at Adelaide 2022. But consistency at lower levels has been harder to come by. Coming into Roland Garros, the No.155-ranked 23-year-old sported a meagre 3-11 record.
Gasanova, who owns a side hustle designing custom T-shirts, turned her fortunes around somewhat in Paris. She Gasanova defeated Zarina Diyas and Priscilla Hon before falling to Donna Vekic in a tense three-setter. But Lauren Davis's withdrawal opened up a spot for her to reach the main draw as a lucky loser against Marie Bouzkova.
Leolia Jeanjean (FRA)
Another college tennis standout, France's Leolia Jeanjean went unbeaten in 2019 while playing for Lynn University, from where she graduated in 2019 with a finance MBA. Jeanjean, 26, was awarded a wild card into her first tour-level main draw after a stellar first full season as a pro.
In 2021, the Montpellier native compiled a 52-22 record and rocketed from No.1180 to No.382 in the rankings. Jeanjean has continued to surge in 2022: her record is 26-9 so far and includes her first ITF W25 title in Calvi, as well as runner-up showings at the Porto ITF W25 and Croissy-Beauborg ITF W60. Jeanjean will take on Nuria Parrizas Diaz in the first round.
Carole Monnet (FRA)
A former Top 30 junior, Carole Monnet received a wild card after making steady progress over the past two years as her pro career has got under way. The 20-year-old Frenchwoman, who was born in Ukraine but adopted by Toulousian parents at the age of 2, won a round of Roland Garros qualifying as a wildcard in each of the past two years.
Between Nov. 2019 and Dec. 2020, Monnet collected six ITF titles during the year-long series of tournaments in Monastir, Tunisia, which will host a Hologic WTA Tour event for the first time this October. Dubbed the "queen of Monastir" as a result, Monnet also reached her first W25 final there in January, as well as a second in Antalya in March.
Highlights: Mertens d. Monnet, Strasbourg 2022
Now ranked No.249, Monnet made her tour-level main draw debut this week in Strasbourg as a wildcard. She delivered an impressive performance, leading Elise Mertens by a break in the first set before falling in a tough 7-5, 6-4 first round.
Jule Niemeier (GER)
This month, 22-year-old Jule Niemeier became the first German to crack top 100 since Laura Siegemund in 2015, and she's backed that up by storming through Roland Garros qualifying for the loss of only seven games in three matches.
Niemeier's Grand Slam main-draw debut is arguably somewhat belated. Last year, her smooth shot-making took her to two WTA semifinals -- Strasbourg, where she fell to eventual Roland Garros champion Barbora Krejcikova in three sets, and Hamburg. Niemeier also took Belinda Bencic to three sets in Berlin, and owns wins over Caroline Garcia, Shelby Rogers and Amanda Anisimova.
But it's taken a bit longer to break through on the major stage. Niemeier reached the final qualifying round of Wimbledon, but squandered two match points against Natalia Vikhlyantseva to make the main draw. In Australia this January, the last hurdle was a barrier again when she fell to Arianne Hartono.
"It has a huge meaning for me," Niemeier told rolandgarros.com. "I played four qualies now and my first one at Wimbledon, I had two match points in that final match and lost. That's not a nice experience, so I was pretty emotional at the end to reach a main draw for the first time."
In the first round, Niemeier will bid for her third career Top 50 win against 2018 finalist Sloane Stephens.
Linda Noskova (CZE)
Just one year after winning the Roland Garros girls' title, former junior No.5 Linda Noskova has graduated to the main stage. The 17-year-old Czech was ranked No.1035 at the start of 2021, but has zoomed up to her current No.185 thanks to a 51-18 record in the pros since then.
Noskova has received only two tour-level qualifying wildcards thus far in her career, but she has found that working her own way up through the ITF World Tour has paid dividends. She has won two W60 titles within the past year, in Prerov on clay last August and in Croissy-Beauborg indoors this April.
Highlights: Noskova d. Andreeva, Roland Garros 2021
And on her Grand Slam debut this week, Noskova defeated Anna Blinkova, Conny Perrin and Rebecca Sramkova in succession to become the youngest player to come through qualifying at Roland Garros since a 16-year-old Michelle Larcher De Brito in 2009.
Part of a wave of teenage Czech talent that also includes sisters Linda and Brenda Fruhvirtova, Dominika Salkova, Sara Bejlek and Nikola Bartunkova, Noskova is unlikely to remain under the radar for much longer. She opens with a marquee matchup against another Roland Garros debutante -- No.12 seed and US Open champion Emma Raducanu.
Nastasja Schunk (GER)
Joining Niemeier in a cohort of rising young Germans is Nastasja Schunk, last year's Wimbledon girls' runner-up. The powerful Schunk surged up the rankings in 2021 from No.943 to No.294, coming through qualifying to make her WTA main draw debut in Stuttgart before winning a pair of ITF W25s over the summer in Bydgoszcz and Braunschweig.
The 18-year-old, who looks up to Naomi Osaka and Bianca Andreescu in particular, has kept going in 2022. She came through qualifying again in Stuttgart, and scored her first Top 100 win over Niemeier this month en route to her biggest career final at the Wiesbaden ITF W100.
Making her Grand Slam qualifying debut this week, Schunk scored wins over Bogota finalist Laura Pigossi and former World No.73 Veronica Cepede Royg before losing a high-quality thriller to Hailey Baptiste in the final round. However, she entered the main draw as a lucky loser following Ana Konjuh's withdrawal, and will open against former champion Simona Halep.
Noskova isn't the only reigning Roland Garros junior champion to emerge in the main draw this year. Former junior No.7 Oksana Selekhmeteva claimed her second girls' doubles major trophy here last year alongside Alexandra Eala, and also came through qualifying at her first attempt with wins over Kateryna Baindl, Elisabetta Cocciaretto and Oceane Babel.
Highlights: Kudermetova d. Selekhmeteva, Moscow 2021
The 19-year-old compiled a 49-19 pro record in 2021 and rose from No.683 to No.226 over the course of the year. Highlights included qualifying for her first WTA main draw in Moscow, where she pushed Veronika Kudermetova all the way in a 4-6, 7-6(3), 6-4 first-round defeat, and a first Top 100 win against Martina Trevisan in the Contrexeville ITF W100 event. This month, she broke the Top 200 for the first time and is currently ranked No.198.
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