Australia will have its largest French Open singles contingent this century after Olivia Rogowska pulled off a second straight qualifying escape act.
Rogowska’s 3-6 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 win over Brazilian Beatriz Haddad Maia on Friday swelled Australia’s numbers in the main draw to an even dozen.
A champion is still unlikely, but Australia hasn’t had 12 challengers since 1999, a generation ago when Pat Rafter was the men’s third seed and sent a young wildcard named Roger Federer packing in the first round.
Lleyton Hewitt also made his debut that year, but will be missing in 2015 as young guns Nick Kyrgios, Thanasi Kokkinakis and Bernard Tomic look to complete the changing of the guard at the season’s second grand slam.
Former finalist Samantha Stosur, the women’s 26th seed, will again spearhead Australia’s assault.
In a timely confidence booster, Stosur on Friday rolled highly-rated young American Stephens 3-6 6-3 6-0 to reach her first final since of the year at the Strasbourg International.
Stosur’s victory came hours after she was thrust into a likely third-round showdown at Roland Garros with defending champion Maria Sharapova.
The former US Open winner will have a five-strong support cast in the women’s event, with Casey Dellacqua and Ajla Tomljanovic clashing in an all-Australian first-round affair.
Fast-rising Daria Gavrilova takes on Swede Johanna Larsson, Jarmila Gajdosova plays French wildcard Amandine Hesse, while Rogowska will learn the identity of her first-round opponent after qualifying is completed.
The 23-year-old will hardly be fussed whoever she plays after recovering from a set and a service break on successive days to qualify for the 128-strong championship draw.
Tomic, the 27th seed, and Thanasi Kokkinakis, fresh from his breakthrough Challenger success in Bordeaux, both open against qualifiers and could clash in a feature second-round encounter.
Kyrgios, seeded at a slam for the first time after making the quarter-finals at Wimbledon and the Australian Open, faces Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan.
Sam Groth has a tough opener against Uruguay’s 21st seed Pablo Cuevas, James Duckworth hasa qualifier and Marinko Matosevic meets Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci.
No Australians play on the opening day, with Stosur, Dellacqua, Tomljanovic, Gavrilova, Gajdosova, Matosevic and Groth all launching their campaigns on Monday.