Wimbledon qualifiers: A short distance from the main court, players dream of reaching the main draw

That is Wimbledon – the third main match of the calendar yr – however the venue and opponents should not conscious of it. At this tennis membership, the crowds are smaller, the cheers are quieter, and the courts are packed collectively near the All England Membership three miles away.

Whereas the principle draw at Wimbledon could not begin till subsequent week, the journey of getting there for greater than 250 gamers has already begun.

The four-day qualifying match in Roehampton, London might be a golden ticket to the principle stage of Wimbledon – a spot the place some gamers dream of competing for the remainder of their careers.

“And our lodging is definitely proper subsequent to the Wimbledon gate. Day by day I am so shut – I can see it, however I have never really gone by way of the gates in 10 years, so clearly it will be good to be there once more.”

Previous to Monday, Krueger had by no means received a Wimbledon qualifier – affectionately often called the “Qualifiers”. However a 6-1 6-4 win over Briton Luca Pow made the 28-year-old take a small however vital step in direction of a key tie.

“I performed a number of shut matches within the first rounds, however I by no means obtained over the humps,” Krueger continues. “The truth that I used to be in a position to get so near the pitches is absolutely large. I am excited to maintain the grasscourt season going.”

Krueger competed in the boys'  Singles competition at Wimbledon 2012.

Eligible Privileges

Most gamers qualify for the Grand Slam by their rating positions, however as much as eight areas in every lottery are reserved for general playing cards – determined by match organizers – and 16 are within the playoffs, that means these with a superb rank outdoors the highest 100 have Unlikely alternative. The Grand Slam glory.

Till final yr, no participant within the playoffs had received a Grand Slam title. However Emma Radocano’s victory over Leila Fernandez Within the US Open closing, he spawned one in every of tennis’ most well-known tales, because the 18-year-old triumphed with out dropping a set through the course.

Even progressing by way of qualification shouldn’t be straightforward. Gamers should both win all three of their matches, or hope to safe a spot as a “fortunate loser” after a late withdrawal from the principle draw.

says Krueger, who first certified for the principle attract one of many main tournaments on the 2018 US Open.

“You may have three robust matches below your belt, whereas the others will include nothing. In case you can deal with it bodily, with the ability to qualify is unquestionably a bonus.”

Success in qualification may also be an enormous payday for these within the decrease rankings.

Eligible women and men singles have a mixed prize fund of £3,648,000 (about US$4,465,000) – a rise of 26% in 2021 – sufficient to achieve the primary spherical of the principle draw for a one-time cost of £ pound. 50,000 (about $61,000).

‘A dream come true’

On this yr’s Wimbledon qualifiers, some stadiums are outfitted with non permanent stands, whereas in others, spectators can occupy a viewing web site meters from the occasion, creating an intimate ambiance for the gamers.

It might take time to adapt to enjoying circumstances – particularly for these with restricted grasscourt expertise. Swiss Alexander Richard, ranked 192nd on this planet, is competing in his second championship on grass.

“It’s totally completely different. I am not used to it in any respect,” Richard advised CNN Sport after his 4-6 6-1 6-2 win over Britain’s Stuart Parker. “But it surely’s undoubtedly a enjoyable floor with bounce I’ve by no means seen earlier than. I really feel like I haven’t got as a lot management of the ball as I normally do on different courts.

“I am additionally stunned that whereas it is sort of quick, it is sort of gradual,” he provides. “I can not try this but – I am engaged on it.”

Richard plays a forehand during the first round of Wimbledon qualifiers.

Richard by no means performed in the principle draw at a serious match, however he got here near taking part on this yr’s French Open when he misplaced within the third spherical of qualifying. He says it will be “very particular” to go to Wimbledon.

“This is able to undoubtedly be a dream come true,” he says. “Rising up, you at all times speak about Wimbledon once I was a child.

“I’d additionally prefer to play on the principle web site – that might be cool. These stadiums look nice… the final time I used to be there, I feel I used to be eight, as a fan to go and watch. I do not fairly keep in mind what it regarded like.”

Rank factors

Among the gamers competing within the qualifiers have already graced the Wimbledon most important stage. Ukraine’s Daria Snegur received the ladies’ singles title at Heart Courtroom three years in the past and is now seeking to compete in her first main match.

“I really like the grass courts,” she advised CNN Sport after profitable her opening recreation within the playoffs. “That is my favourite spot…and the grass is my favourite floor. After all, I need to play in the principle draw.”

Snigour performs in Roehampton with the Ukrainian flag hanging on her tennis set and enthusiastic about her homeland is near her coronary heart.

Russian and Belarusian gamers Banned from Wimbledon this yr – step her Proved to trigger division amongst gamers ATP and WTA Excursions responded by stripping the match of all rating factors.

Snigur is behind Wimbledon’s resolution to exclude Russians and Belarusians, which she says is “crucial” to her as a Ukrainian: “For me, it does not matter – with or with out factors,” she provides.

Snigur defeated Suzan Lamens in her opening qualifying match in Roehampton.

The elimination of rating factors from this yr’s Wimbledon didn’t stop gamers from competing within the match, which can embrace 9 of the highest 10 gamers within the ladies’s rankings and 7 of the highest 10 within the males’s. The 4 absent as a consequence of damage and the exclusion of the gamers of Russia and Belarus.

The match has the added incentive of further prize cash – the whole purse is simply over £40 million ($49 million), a 15.2% enhance on final yr – however the status of the competitors at Wimbledon can also be an attraction – those that play Within the playoffs totally acquainted.

For some, simply standing on manicured lawns for a championship is the achievement of long-standing desires.

“At Wimbledon, Wimbledon is at all times going to be particular it doesn’t matter what occurs,” Krueger says. “Enjoying in the principle group at Wimbledon is everybody’s purpose – it does not matter if there are factors or not.”