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Top seeds Kei Nishikori and Anabel Medina Garrigues made it through the second round of qualifying and into the men’s and women’s main draws respectively on Sunday.
Nishikori, who is now under the tutelage of Brad Gilbert after cutting his teeth at the famous Nick Bollettieri Academy in Bradenton, Florida, lost the first set to unheralded Argentinean Federico Del Bonis 7-4 in a tie-break but held his nerve in a tight second (7-5) before pulling away in the third.
No.2 Pablo Andujar and no.3 Marcel Granollers had already been eliminated in the first round, but no.4 Pablo Cuevas – a Grand Slam winner on clay, though admittedly in the doubles form of the game – avoided the same fate, booking his place in the main draw despite losing the first set to Carlos Berlocq. Elsewhere in the second round of men’s qualifying there were wins for Italy’s Paolo Lorenzi (photo) and Spain’s Pere Riba, while former world no.19 Igor Andreev – now languishing at 98th – defeated no.5 seed Jarkko Nieminen. Victor Hanescu also punched above his weight, the no.9 seed beating no.6 Adrian Mannarino, while Lukas Kubot needed three sets to see off Slovenia’s Blas Kavcic.
In the women’s tournament, no.1 seed Medina Garrigues, like Cuevas a Roland Garros winner in the doubles, dashed home hopes and made short work of Karin Knapp, cruising to a 6-4, 6-2 win to open the day. Arantxa Parra Santonja defeated Laura Pous-Tio in a derby of double-barrelled Spaniards (aren’t they all?), though Nuria Llagostera Vives could not parlay her two surnames into a place in the main draw, falling 6-1, 7-6 to no.3 seed Polona Hercog.
No.2 seed Zheng Jie, better known for her performances on grass, slipped to an epic three-set defeat to Aussie battler Anastasia Ronionova, who came from a set down to win 3-6, 6-2, 7-5. No.13 Varvara Lepchenko (6-0, 4-6, 6-2 over no.7 Angelique Kerber) also progressed, as did no.16 Christina McHale, who survived the loss of the first set and a raft of missed match points in an epic final game to overcome British prodigy Heather Watson. Tamira Paszek continued her comeback from injuries and off-court issues, defeating former top 20 player Virginie Razzano in three, with the Frenchwomen struggling ever since a freak foot injury suffered during a massage a year ago.