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Bjorklund, Contreras Gomez battle through Wimbledon qualifying

Having made their Grand Slam main draw debuts as qualifiers at Roland Garros a month ago, Mirjam Bjorklund and Fernanda Contreras Gomez both repeated the feat at Wimbledon to reach the SW19 main draw for the first time.

No.3 seed Bjorklund triumphed in the longest match of the final qualifying round 7-6(2), 6-7(5), 6-1 over Maria Lourdes Carle in 2 hours and 57 minutes. The Swede was two points from victory in the second-set tiebreak, but hit back strongly in the decider to become the highest seed to successfully navigate qualifying.

Contreras Gomez successfully defused the power of former World No.25 Timea Babos with delicate slices, coming through 6-3, 1-6, 6-3 in 1 hour and 31 minutes. As she had in Paris, the Vanderbilt alumna celebrated her main-draw berth with a cry of “Vamos Mexico!” as she draped herself in her country’s flag.

No.157-ranked Contreras Gomez was especially proud of the clever sliced pass with which she brought up match point. “My coach has been telling me for so long to use that shot,” she said afterwards.

Another triumph for touch over power came with Maja Chwalinska’s 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 upset of No.2 seed CoCo Vandeweghe. The No.172-ranked Pole, a former Junior Fed Cup teammate of Iga Swiatek, is making a comeback to the game after being sidelined for three months last year as she battled depression. But the 20-year-old Chwalinska was all smiles after delighting the crowd with a series of exquisite dropshots and lobs.

Two players making their way back into a Grand Slam main draw after several years away were Louisa Chirico and Yanina Wickmayer. Former World No.58 Chirico missed a match point in the second-set tiebreak against Liechtenstein’s Kathinka Von Deichmann, but recovered to win 6-3, 6-7(6), 6-1 and book her place in her first major main draw since Roland Garros 2017.

Wickmayer, who gave birth to daughter Luana last April, returned from maternity leave this February. The Belgian former World No.12, who reached the fourth round of Wimbledon in 2011, did not drop a set in her three qualifying matches and finished with a 6-1, 6-4 defeat of Jang Su-Jeong.

Similarly dominant was last year’s Wimbledon junior finalist Nastasja Schunk, who also powered through each of her matches without conceding a set. The 18-year-old German, who took Simona Halep to three sets on her Grand Slam main draw debut at Roland Garros last month, completed her qualifying competition with a 6-1, 6-3 win over Danielle Lao.

However, former junior World No.1 Victoria Jimenez Kasintseva was unable to make her first major main draw. The 16-year-old Andorran fell 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 to No.10 seed Astra Sharma.

No.9 seed Mai Hontama and UCLA alumna Catherine Harrison both sealed their main draw debuts in style. Hontama delivered a resilient comeback after missing three set points in the first set against Lulu Sun, eventually coming through 6-7(9), 6-2, 6-3 after 2 hours and 28 minutes of high-octane hitting.

No.264-ranked Harrison led No.15 seed Yuan Yue 6-1, 5-2, but missed a short backhand on her first match point and ultimately needed a tiebreak to come through 6-1, 7-6(3). The 28-year-old had never contested a Grand Slam qualifying event before this week.


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