Çağla Büyükakçay, Turkey’s top tennis player, continued her historic clay court season at Roland Garros, defeating Aliaksandra Sasnovich 5-7, 7-6, 6-2 on May 23 to become the first Turkish woman in the Open Era to win a match at a Grand Slam.
Büyükakçay, who joined İpek Soylu this week as one of the first two Turkish women to appear in a Grand Slam, had to battle through the qualifying rounds to book her spot in the main draw.
She let slip a pair of early break chances to go down a set to her Belarusian opponent, who was also looking for her first match win at Roland Garros. The pair traded four breaks of serve in the second to stay toe to toe and send the set into a tiebreak, where Büyükakçay rattled off five straight points to force a decider. She then won five games in a row in the third set to close out the match and add another emotional and historic win to her repertoire.
Earlier in the clay season, the No. 83-ranked qualifier rewrote the Turkish tennis history books in front of her home country with a victory in the TEB BNP Paribas Istanbul Cup. Büyükakçay is the first Turkish tennis player to reach a WTA semifinal, final and capture a title, as well as the first to break into the Top 100.
“I wanted to cry after the match, because it’s very important for Turkish tennis,” Büyükakçay said after the final in Istanbul.
“I will be in the Top 100, which will be the first time for Turkish tennis. Probably, I will also be in the main draw at Wimbledon
for the first time in my career – and also in Turkish history. I was so emotional at the end.”
Büyükakçay will take on 24th-seeded Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia
in the second round on May 25.