Qualifying play concludes Sunday for the inaugural $757,900 San Diego Open WTA 500 women’s tennis tournament, with Australian Ellen Perez continuing her unexpected bid for one of the six spots reserved for qualifiers in the 28-player singles main draw.
Perez was a last-minute replacement for Russian Liudmila Samsonova, who got a spot in the main draw when Brazilian Beatriz Haddad Maia withdrew.
Perez was at her hotel when she was informed the resulting qualifying vacancy was hers. The 26-year-old lefthander didn’t have much time to prepare, but still managed to defeat Russian Varvara Flink, 6-1, 6-1, in 54 minutes Saturday at the Barnes Tennis Center.
“It was a bit of a rollercoaster — I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it in time for the match,” said Perez, who is also in the doubles main draw. “I got the call at the last second that I was actually in. To get out there and put on a solid performance without a good warm-up, I was really happy. I thought I played at a high level.”
Perez will face Russian Anna Kalinskaya in the first match on the Hologic Court. Kalinskaya defeated American Emma Navarro, 6-4, 7-6 (3) Saturday.
Kalinskaya is 58th on the Women’s Tennis Association singles rankings. Perez is 348th.
Sunday’s losers will receive $5,410 while the winners are guaranteed at least $8,080.
Main draw play begins Monday. The main draw includes six of the top eight players, led by top-ranked Iga Swiatek, the 2022 French Open and U.S. Open champion.
The tournament received its name from the number of ranking points the champion receives. The WTA 500 tournaments are the fourth tier of tournaments on the main WTA Tour, after the four Grand Slam tournaments, WTA Finals and nine WTA 1000 tournaments.
City News Service contributed to this article.