Top seed Aleksandra Krunic is among several players riding a wave of good form into Roehampton this week, in a qualifying field packed with comeback veterans and junior champions.
Alex Macpherson

LONDON, England - Over the next three days, the 96 women who have descended on the lawns of the Bank of England Sports Ground in Roehampton, a tranquil corner of southwest London, will be winnowed down to just a dozen.

The 12 who manage to battle through three qualifying rounds will be rewarded with coveted spots in the main draw of Wimbledon - and, given how stacked the draw is with quality names, they'll certainly have earned it.

Several of those vying for a spot in the main event have been there before - in a big way.

Former World No.15 Kaia Kanepi was a Wimbledon quarterfinalist in 2010 and 2013; the 32-year-old's career has been blighted by injury and illness, but her latest comeback has got off to a bright start with victory two weeks ago in the ITF $25,000 event in Essen.

Now ranked No.544, Kanepi opens against the Netherlands' Lesley Kerkhove - and could face Tereza Smitkova, the 22-year-old Czech who reached the fourth round of Wimbledon in 2014, in the final round here.

Kaia Kanepi shakes hands with Petra Kvitova after their 2010 Wimbledon quarterfinal (Getty)
Kaia Kanepi shakes hands with Petra Kvitova after their 2010 Wimbledon quarterfinal (Getty)

24-year-old Michelle Larcher de Brito's finest scalps have come at Wimbledon, too: the Portuguese player beat Maria Sharapova in 2013 and Svetlana Kuznetsova the following year.

Now ranked No.280, she could face either Olga Govortsova - who put together a fourth-round run in 2015 - or Elizaveta Kulichkova, the 21-year-old Russian fresh off pushing Garbiñe Muguruza to three sets in Birmingham, in just the second round of qualifying.

Meanwhile, top seed Aleksandra Krunic is one of several players entering Roehampton with some serious momentum behind them. Krunic was the champion in the WTA 125 event in Bol in the second week of Roland Garros, and backed it up with a run to the ITF $100,000 Manchester final the very next week.

The other seed in her section is none other than Petra Martic, who became the lowest-ranked player to make the fourth round of the French Open in over three decades.

No.2 seed Alison Van Uytvanck is also fresh off a run to the Ilkley ITF $100,000 finals which has boosted her back into the Top 100, while No.3 seed Ons Jabeur turned heads in Paris by becoming the first Arab woman to make the third round of a Slam.

Jabeur's opener underlines that no one has it easy here, though. 17-year-old Sofya Zhuk was the Wimbledon girls' champion in 2015, and this is the first time the Russian has gained direct entry to a Slam qualifying competition. Her compatriot and successor, Anastasia Potapova, is also here as a wildcard entry.

The 15-year-old, the youngest player in the draw, has rocketed up the rankings in 2017: she is currently No.294, having begun the year unranked - and takes on No.7 seed Patricia Maria Tig in the first round.


Looking forward to play on grass again this year???

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The Russian duo aren't the only former junior stars trying to break through to the biggest stage: 18-year-olds Marie Bouzkova and Dalma Galfi and 17-year-old Kayla Day were the US Open girls' champions in 2014, 2015 and 2016 respectively.

Hungary's Galfi takes on 20-year-old German Antonia Lottner, fresh off a win over Dominika Cibulkova in 's-Hertogenbosch two weeks ago, in round one - with an intriguing potential final round against No.9 seed Taylor Townsend, the 2013 Wimbledon girls' runner-up, or former world No.35 Polona Hercog.

American Day, meanwhile, squares off immediately against fellow 17-year-old Bianca Andreescu, of Canada - one of two 2000-born teenagers who have shot up the rankings in 2017.

The other, of course, is Australia's Destanee Aiava, nestled at the bottom of the draw and aiming for a potential second round against Nürnberg runner-up Barbora Krejcikova.

Click here to check out the full qualifying draw, and click here to check out the order of play for Tuesday's first slate of matches.

Michelle Larcher de Brito celebrates her second-round victory over Maria Sharapova at Wimbledon 2013 (Getty)
Michelle Larcher de Brito celebrates her second-round victory over Maria Sharapova at Wimbledon 2013 (Getty)