Big names fall early in qualifiers

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2008 finalist Alize Cornet, who went all the way from the qualifiers to the championship match three years ago, fell at the first hurdle this year, going down in straight sets to Nuria Llagostera Vives. Australia’s Casey Dellacqua also went out in the minimum, defeated by Austria’s Tamira Paszek in a battle between two players who looked as if they were about to crack the top 20 a few years ago, only to fall by the wayside.

Still in the women’s draw, Christina McHale won the American derby against her young compatriot Coco Vanderweghe, while another US player bowed out, Vania King losing 6-0, 6-3 to Anastasia Rodionova. To the delight of the crowd however, Italian wild card Karin Knapp (photo) won a three-set thriller against Belgium’s Kirsten Flipkens.

In the men’s draw, former Nick Bollettieri protégé Kei Nishikori, who is now coached by Brad Gilbert, is half-way to qualifying after defeating Maximo Gonzalez, but Teimuraz Gabashvili, who made it into the second week at Roland Garros last year, crashed out in straight sets to Federico Del Bonis.

Among the Italian hopefuls, Paolo Lorenzi ousted Spain’s Pablo Andujar, but Matteo Viola proved no match for France’s Adrian Mannarino.

The final round of qualifying will be held on Sunday, with seven spots up for grabs for the men and eight for the women. Four of the men’s qualifiers have been drawn against one another in the first round, while one “lucky” qualifier will face No.10 seed Gael Monfils. In the women’s draw, a qualifier will also get to go up against the French No.1 in the shape of Marion Bartoli.

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