ROLAND GARROS – The qualifying tournament at any Grand Slam tends to bring out a few blasts from the past – players you haven’t seen in awhile.
There are various reasons for that: injury, drop in form. And of course in recent times, the pandemic.
But there are a number of familiar players who were regular main-draw participants who have been toiling on the Roland Garros courts this week.
Exhibit 1: Urszula Radwanska
Never really gone, Radwanska toiling in the trenches
Radwanska, who is now 30 (!!!) and is the younger sister of retired former top-10 player Agnieszka, looks to have been competing all along. There aren’t many long gaps in her playing resumé in recent years.
She just hasn’t been winning. And as a result, she didn’t have a ranking high enough to get into the qualifying in Paris.
Right now, at No. 230, she squeezed in.
Radwanska didn’t get the easiest opponent in No. 17 seed Greet Minnen of Belgium. But Radwanska got off to a good start before bowing out 4-6, 6-3, 6-1.
Here’s what it looked like.
Nearly nine years ago – Oct. 2012, to be precise, when she was just 21, Radwanska reached her career high of No. 29 in singles.
No. 1 junior on a long, winding path
It’s Radwanska’s first trip back to Paris since 2015, when she lost in the first round of qualifying to … (now) doubles specialist Latisha Chan.
She was bidding to make her first main draw here since 2014, and her first main draw at any major since she lost in the first round of the 2016 Australian Open.
It’s been an unusual career path, to say the least. Despite having reached the top 30, Radwanska has never won back-to-back matches in a Grand Slam tournament.
She’s also never won even a smaller WTA Tour title, although she did make two finals. And she did win the doubles title in Istanbul with her sister, all the back in 2007 – this very week, in fact – when she was just 16.
Four months after that, she became the No. 1 junior in the world after winning junior Wimbledon (over Madison Brengle in the final) and very nearly following that up with the US Open junior girls’ title.
Radwanska ended losing in a third-set tiebreak to Kristina Kucova of Slovakia.
Think about that, for perspective. Radwanska is only 30. But when she won her only Tour title, Coco Gauff had just turned three.
A nice little parting gift
The prize money is down at Roland Garros this year. Still, Radwanska’s take of $12,105 USD for losing in the first round is more than she had earned in all of 2021, to this point.
In her tournament just before coming to Paris, Radwanska lost in the first round of qualifying at a $100K ITF in Florida and earned … $237.
For the most part, she has been playing $25Ks.
But she did peek into the qualifying at the 2020 Australian Open, losing 6-3, 6-1 to the now-retired Johanna Larsson of Sweden.
Radwanska returned to the top 700 in May, 2017, into the top 500 in May, 2018 and into the top 300 in Jan., 2019.
Since then – that’s nearly 2 1/2 years, she has been rolling around between No. 200 and No. 300, not really getting anywhere.
Radwanska was last inside the top 100 in Oct. 2015.
Tennis players are very stubborn people.