Jaimee Fourlis in action against Caroline Wozniacki at the French Open.
Jaimee Fourlis in action against Caroline Wozniacki at the French Open. CAROLINE BLUMBERG

Fourlis' star on rise after pushing Wozniacki all the way

JAIMEE Fourlis entered the French Open as one of the lowest-ranked and, to Europeans, most obscure players in the draw.

More than two hours later, the Melbourne teenager emerged with new-found status - a future star.

Beaten 6-4 3-6 6-2 in the first round at Roland Garros by former world No 1 Caroline Wozniacki, Fourlis confirmed what most Australians already knew.

She is the authentic article, a self-proclaimed high achiever who is still studying Year 12 via distance education.

Stubbornly denied by an opponent nine years older, 17-year-old Fourlis franked her reputation as a mustering tennis force.

In a contest she could easily have won, Fourlis saved two match performances before bowing out in the performance of her life.

When Wozniacki greeted the young Victorian at the net, she spoke for every spectator on Court Suzanne Lenglen.

"Great match," the Dane said before Fourlis left the arena to raucous applause.

Ranked 337th in the world, Fourlis was contesting only her second major against an opponent with a long and decorated history.

Wozniacki is a dual grand slam runner-up, spent 67 weeks at No 1 in 2010-11 and has career earnings of more than $US22million.

But she was taken to the brink by the fearless Victorian, who thumped 36 winners to Wozniacki's 12 but made 54 unforced errors to the the Dane's 32.

Wozniacki claimed only six more points for the match 91-85, while Fourlis could capitalise on only three of 11 break points.

Athletic and powerful, Fourlis won Tennis Australia's wildcard playoff - just as she had at Melbourne Park in January - and almost cashed it in with a huge upset.

If not for inexperience, the feisty right-hander would have prevailed.

Introduced to tennis by her father Bill 12 years ago, Fourlis certainly created plenty of opportunities with adventurous shot-making not often seen on the women's tour.

Her backhand was a potent weapon against defensive Wozniacki but impulsiveness sabotaged the Australian at crucial junctures.

After splitting sets, Wozniacki's steadiness was the decisive factor late in the match.

Fourlis served as orange girl with fellow rising star Destanee Aiava for the Australian Fed Cup against Serbia, a rite of passage to bigger things.

Her loser's cheque of about $52,000 almost doubles her career prizemoney.

Defending champion Garbine Muguruza ousted 2010 winner Francesca Schiavone 6-2 6-4 despite a severe bout of late-match nerves.

Former world No 1 Jelena Jankovic was ambushed by Dutch qualifier Richel Hogenkamp, losing 6-2 7-5.

News Corp Australia

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