Aleksandra Wozniak one win away from French Open main draw

PARIS – Qualifying draws at Grand Slams are largely made up of rising youngsters, players forever on the cusp of main draws, and quality veterans whose rankings have dropped for one reason or another – usually injury.

At 26, Montreal's Aleksandra Wozniak is one of those in that last category, currently just outside the top 150 in the rankings but a far better player than that.

If she can beat Cagla Buyukakcay of Turkey on Saturday, she'll be back where she belongs - in the main draw of a tournament in which she has reached the round of 16 once, and the third round three other times – including the last time she was here, in 2012.

In the second round on Friday, Wozniak faced another veteran who's had injury issues in Alexandra Dulgheru of Romania, and came out the victor in a rather routine 6-4, 6-3 win.

Dulgheru, who turns 25 next week, was as high as No. 26 in the rankings three years ago, but currently stands at No. 137.

The biggest reason for that is the massive wrapping around her right knee; Dulgheru basically missed the second half of 2011 and most of 2012 with that knee – and the left knee. And then when she returned, the Romanian missed last year's French Open with a wrist injury.

Wozniak knows all about that, having missed the better part of a year and a half with a shoulder issue. But she's healthy now, and she took full advantage of Dulgheru's lack of mobility by peppering her with drop shots.

By the time Dulgheru was down 4-6, 3-5 and the rain started to fall, she even appealed to the chair umpire for a stoppage in play – to no avail. She was pretty much out of better options that that point.

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One last drop shot by Wozniak, and it was over. Dulgheru's sprint momentum had her cross over to Wozniak's side of the court on that last point, which made things awfully convenient for the handshake.

For whatever reason, we thought Buyukakcay was a youngster, because it's only recently that you started seeing her name in draws at the WTA level. In fact, she's 24 and, at No. 140 in the WTA rankings, she's just two off a career high reached last summer.

Her match against Italian veteran Alberta Brianti, played out on the court adjacent to Wozniak's but ending long after the Canadian had wrapped things up, was an absolute train wreck.

Buyukakcay served for the match at least four times – and even towards the end, when Brianti could barely walk and was attended to twice by a physio, she still couldn't serve it out. Until she finally did, mostly through Brianti errors.

It doesn't appear that Wozniak will have trouble getting past Buyukakcay and into the main draw, joining Fed Cup teammates Eugenie Bouchard and Sharon Fichman.

But that's the thing about tennis; you never know.