Stepanek Turns Back The Clock In Roland Garros Qualifying
A trio of #NextGen stars also advanced on Monday into the second round of qualifying.
Day 1 of qualifying at Roland Garros saw a mix of teenagers and veterans move into the second round, with #NextGen stars Frances Tiafoe, Yoshihito Nishioka and Jared Donaldson joining former Top 10 player Radek Stepanek among the winners on Monday.
No. 20 seed Stepanek, the oldest player in the draw at age 37, opened his campaign for a 13th appearance in the main draw at Roland Garros by defeating Germany's Cedric-Marcel Stebe, 6-4, 6-4. Next up for the Czech player is Matthew Barton.
“I was out for eight months last year, so I’m trying to claw my way back,” Stepanek told the Roland Garros website. “I’m in a good position playing good tennis on clay now, which was not always my favourite surface, but I’m pleased that I’m slowly back now after this injury. I’m feeling 25 again and enjoying every second of my tennis.”
No. 2 seed Nishioka overcame a slow start to defeat French wild card Gleb Sakharov, 2-6, 7-5, 7-5. The Japanese 20-year-old will look to replicate his performance from last year at a minimum, when he also came through qualifying. Next up for him is Henri Laaksonen.
No. 29 seed Donaldson moved into the second round in less-than-ideal fashion after Denys Molchanov, from Ukraine, retired due to injury while leading 5-4 in the first set. The American is looking to come through qualifying at a Grand Slam for the first time in his career. He will play local favourite Axel Michon in the second round.
Over on Court 6, Tiafoe rallied from down a set and a break to defeat Argentinean Guilherme Clezar, 1-6, 7-5, 6-2. Tiafoe jubilantly celebrated after firing a forehand return winner on match point. The American will next play No. 28 seed Saketh Myneni, from India, for a place in the final round of qualifying.
The comeback of the day belonged to French wild card Laurent Lokoli, who rallied from 3-5 down in the second set to defeat German Julien Reister, 0-6, 7-5, 6-2. Meanwhile, fellow Frenchman David Guez provided the upset of the day by also rallying from a set down to win over No. 1 seed Konstantin Kravchuk, from Russia, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.
Day 2 of qualifying at Roland Garros will see a trio of #NextGen stars take the court for their first match on Tuesday, including rising Swedish player Elias Ymer, and Russians Andrey Rublev and Karen Khachanov.