Sanders storms the main draw at Roland Garros
Storm Sanders is celebrating a place in his first Grand Slam main draw outside Australia after the left-hander from Rockhampton struggled in qualifying at Roland Garros.
Sanders, who had a decisive year after a decade of battle on the circuit, beat Switzerland’s Susan Bandecchi 7-5 7-5 on Friday to negotiate her way past the last of three qualifying hurdles without losing a set.
A year that really started off superbly for her when she reached her first-ever WTA singles quarter-final in Adelaide, the 26-year-old is now looking forward to making her overseas slam debut after being eliminated to four. repeated in the first round in Melbourne.
It will be a tough request for Sanders to break her Grand Slam duck as she had a particularly tough first round against Belgium’s 14th seed Elise Mertens.
But being the only Australian among the dozen in the qualifying draw to reach the main fortnight is a huge achievement in itself for the woman who now joins Ash Barty, Ajla Tomljanovic and wildcard Astra Sharma in the women’s main draw.
Six Australians, led by national No.1 Alex de Minaur, will also be in the lead when action kicks off on Sunday.
After winning his first two matches for the loss of just 10 games, Sanders expected and received a much tougher morning against Switzerland’s Bandecchi, who knocked out former Wimbledon semi-finalist Tsvetana Pironkova in the second round.
Sanders was snapped in the opening game of the first set on Friday, but responded with two breaks to take the opening stanza in just 53 minutes for Bandecchi to take a 4-1 lead in the second and serve for the set at 5. . -4.
Sanders, however, has beaten Switzerland twice in the last three games to win the showdown after one hour 48 minutes.
Having started the year ranked only 282nd in the world, Sanders has now reached a career high 161, with a chance to improve that if she can oust Mertens, 2018 Australian Open semi-finalist and quarter-finalist. from last year’s US Open.