Roland Garros campaigns continue for resilient Aussie role models
Thanasi Kokkinakis, Jason Kubler and Storm Hunter lead the Aussie charge on day four at Roland Garros 2023.
Resilience is a quality that Australian players Thanasi Kokkinakis, Jason Kubler and Storm Hunter all possess in abundance.
The trio have navigated numerous setbacks throughout their respective careers and are now being rewarded.
The 28-year-old Hunter scored her first Grand Slam singles main-draw victory this week and described her long-awaited breakthrough at Roland Garros as “kind of crazy”.
“I mean, I didn’t grow up on clay. I grew up in Perth on grass courts,” Hunter related after becoming the first Australian woman to reach the second round in Paris as a qualifier in 13 years.
“I moved to Melbourne when I was 17 and that was my first experience on actual clay. For me to be able to play good on this surface, it took me probably a while to believe in that.”
The 27-year-old Kokkinakis is back in the second round at Roland Garros for the first time since his 2015 debut, while 30-year-old Kubler has matched his career-best result at the tournament.
They are among eight Australian players scheduled to compete on day four in Paris.
Roland Garros is broadcast live in Australia on the Nine Network and Stan Sport, with coverage beginning from 6.30pm AEST.
Aussies in action on day four:
[Q] Storm Hunter (AUS) v Elina Svitolina
Women’s singles, second round, Court Simonne-Mathieu, first match (from 7pm AEST)
With four consecutive wins in Paris, world No.204 Hunter’s confidence is brimming. The Aussie qualifier hopes to continue her impressive momentum against former world No.3 Svitolina. The highest-ranked Ukrainian in history is contesting her first Grand Slam tournament as a mother. Svitolina, returning after the birth of daughter Skai in October last year, won a WTA title in Strasbourg last week and knocked out 2022 semifinalist Martina Trevisan in the opening round.
Head-to-head record: Svitolina leads 1-0
Last meeting: Svitolina won 6-1 6-2 (Hua Hin, February 2020)
Jason Kubler (AUS) v Fabio Fognini (ITA)
Men’s singles, second round, Court 6, first match (from 7pm AEST)
Kubler has advanced to the second round at Roland Garros for the second year in a row. The world No.69 is now eyeing a maiden third-round appearance, but to get there, he will need to beat a highly credentialled Italian veteran. The 36-year-old Fognini is a former top-10 player, who made the Roland Garros quarterfinals in 2011. Although Fognini is now ranked No.130, he proved he is still dangerous by knocking out 10th seed Felix Auger-Aliassime in the opening round.
Head-to-head record: First meeting
[WC] Thanasi Kokkinakis (AUS) v Stan Wawrinka
Men’s singles, second round, Court Simonne-Mathieu, second match
World No.108 Kokkinakis has progressed to the second round in Paris for the first time in eight years. After eliminating No.20 seed Dan Evans in the opening round, the big-hitting South Australian faces another tough challenge. World No.89 Wawrinka is one of two former champions in the draw. The enduring 38-year-old Swiss, who won the Roland Garros 2015 title, is aiming to reach the third round in Paris for the 13th time in his illustrious career.
Head-to-head record: First meeting
John Peers (AUS)/Marcelo Melo (BRA) v William Blumberg (USA)/Miomir Kecmanovic (SRB)
Men’s doubles, first round, Court 4, first match (from 7pm AEST)
World No.37 Peers is making his 11th consecutive Roland Garros appearance. The enduring 34-year-old Australian is partnering former world No.1 Melo, a 39-year-old Brazilian who won the 2015 doubles title in Paris. World No.91 Blumberg is coached by former Aussie pro and Wimbledon doubles champion Stephen Huss.
Max Purcell (AUS)/Ben Shelton (USA) v Julian Cash (GBR)/Henry Patten (GBR)
Men’s doubles, first round, Court 5, first match (from 7pm AEST)
This is 25-year-old Purcell’s fourth Roland Garros doubles campaign. The world No.53 is teaming up with Shelton, a rising American star making his Roland Garros debut. The first-time pairing meet world No.48 Cash and world No.50 Patten. The British combo lost to Purcell and Jordan Thompson in an ATP 250 final in Houston last month.
Alexei Popyrin (AUS)/Ilya Ivashka v Francisco Cerundolo (ARG)/Federico Coria (ARG)
Men’s doubles, first round, Court 3, third match
Popyrin is competing in doubles at Roland Garros for a second time. The 23-year-old Aussie is partnering big-serving Ivashka. The first-time pairing face clay-loving Argentine duo Cerundolo and Coria. The 31-year-old Coria is the only player in this match-up to have previously won a doubles match at Roland Garros.
 Ellen Perez (AUS)/Nicole Melichar-Martinez (USA) v [WC] Clara Burel (FRA)/Chloe Paquet (FRA)
Women’s doubles, first round, Court 4, fourth match
World No.15 Perez is making her fourth appearance in a Roland Garros doubles draw. The 27-year-old Australian and her American partner, world No.14 Melichar-Martinez, begin their campaign against French wildcards Burel and Paquet. Perez, Australia’s No.2-ranked woman, is aiming to improve a 1-3 win-loss record at the tournament.
 Matt Ebden (AUS)/Rohan Bopanna (IND) v Sadio Doumbia (FRA)/Fabien Reboul (FRA)
Men’s doubles, first round, Court 11, fourth match
World No.18 Ebden is making his seventh appearance in a Roland Garros doubles draw. The 35-year-old Aussie and Indian partner Bopanna have been one of the best performing teams this season, winning two titles from four finals appearances. They begin their campaign against French hopes, world No.47 Doumbia and world No.46 Reboul.
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