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

That is Wimbledon – the third main event of the calendar yr – however the venue and the rivals usually are not fairly as well-known. At this tennis membership, the crowds are smaller, the cheers are quieter, and the courts crowd collectively near the All England Membership three miles away.

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

The four-day qualifying event in Roehampton, London could possibly be a golden ticket to the primary 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. Every single day I am so shut – I can see it, however I have never really gone by the gates in 10 years, so clearly it could be good to be there once more.”

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

“I performed lots of shut matches within the first rounds, however I by no means bought over the humps,” Krueger continues. “The truth that I used to be in a position to get so near the pitches is basically huge. 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 event 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 Raducano’s victory over Leila Fernandez Within the US Open closing, he spawned one among tennis’ most well-known tales, because the 18-year-old triumphed with out dropping a set through the course.

Even progressing by qualification isn’t simple. 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 primary draw.

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

“You will have three powerful matches beneath your belt, whereas the others will include nothing. If you happen to can deal with it bodily, having the ability to qualify is certainly a bonus.”

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

Eligible girls’s and males’s singles have a mixed prize fund of £3,648,000 (about $4,465,000) – a rise of 26% in 2021 – and simply making it to the primary spherical of the primary draw is sufficient to earn a one-time cost of £ sterling. 50,000 (about $61,000).

‘A dream come true’

On this yr’s Wimbledon qualifiers, some stadiums are geared up with short-term stands, whereas in others, spectators can occupy a viewing website meters from the occasion, creating an intimate ambiance for the gamers.

It could actually take time to adapt to taking part in situations – particularly for these with restricted grasscourt expertise. Swiss Alexander Richard, ranked 192nd on the earth, is competing in his second championship on grass.

“It’s extremely 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. “Nevertheless it’s positively 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 shocked that whereas it is sort of quick, it is sort of gradual,” he provides. “I am unable to 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 primary draw at a serious event, 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 could be “very particular” to go to Wimbledon.

“This could positively be a dream come true,” he says. “Rising up, you all the time discuss Wimbledon once I was a child.

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

Rank factors

A number of the gamers competing within the qualifiers have already graced the Wimbledon principal stage. Ukraine’s Daria Snegur received the ladies’ singles title at Middle Court docket three years in the past and is now trying to compete in her first main event.

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

Snigour performs in Roehampton with the Ukrainian flag hanging on her tennis set and excited 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 event of all rating factors.

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

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

The removing of rating factors from this yr’s Wimbledon didn’t forestall gamers from competing within the event, which can embody 9 of the highest 10 gamers within the girls’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 event has the added incentive of further prize cash – the overall purse is simply over £40 million ($49 million), a 15.2% enhance on final yr – however the status of the competitors at Wimbledon can be an attraction – those that play Within the playoffs absolutely acquainted.

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

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