‘Anonymous’ qualifier Podoroska on the rise at French Open

PARIS (AFP) – Unlike the sonic boom that briefly startled players at Roland Garros earlier this week, Argentine qualifier Nadia Podoroska has flown under the radar on her first French Open appearance.

The 23-year-old Rosario native of Ukrainian ancestry became the first Argentine woman to reach the last 16 in Paris on Friday since Gisela Dulko in 2011.

“It s like a dream come true,” said Podoroska following her 6-3, 6-2 defeat of Slovakia s Anna Karolina Schmiedlova.

Podoroska dropped just 14 games in three rounds of qualifying and has transferred that momentum into the main draw, claiming the scalp of 23rd seed Yulia Putintseva for her first win over a top-50 player.

“It s been an amazing tournament for me. I didn t expect this result, so I m very happy,” said the 131st-ranked Podoroska, set to crack the top 100 after her Roland Garros exploits.

“Success comes now because I stopped looking for it, when I was little I was so eager to be where I am today that it hurt me,” she said.

“I don t have vertigo. My idea is carry on as I have and see how far I can go.”

Assured of 189,000 euros ($221,300) for reaching the stage, the first week culling of seeds has opened the door for Podoroska to make a name for herself in the French capital.

Asked whether anyone recognised her in the locker room, a smiling Podoroska, who started the year ranked 255, replied: “No, no, I don t think so.”

She is set to more than double this year s prize money with her performance in Paris, having spent the truncated season fluctuating between the WTA and ITF circuits.

“Obviously financially, where I have suffered a lot, it will give me tranquility,” said Podoroska, adding some of the earnings would go towards her coaches  salaries.

“Very recently I wasn t sure of being able to continue playing. With these results I will be able to get into other tournaments, everything changes.”

A favourable draw, with Czech world number 114 Barbora Krejcikova her next opponent, could allow Podoroska to match the best performance by a qualifier at the French Open.

Nine times a qualifier has reached the quarter-finals at Roland Garros, the last being Yaroslava Shvedova in 2012. None have gone beyond that stage.