Lulu Sun aiming to extend purple patch to red clay of Roland Garros

Sunday, 19 May 2024

Lulu Sun feels a couple of good tournaments in America have set her up well for her first appearance at Roland Garros as a professional player.

The 23-year-old has been in a purple patch since confirming that she’ll play with a New Zealand flag, rather than a Swiss one, next to her name from now on.

Sun played a crucial role in New Zealand remaining in Asia/Oceania Group I of the Billie Jean King Cup, then travelled from China to the States where she reached the semifinals of a W75 World Tennis Tour tournament in Charlottesville, Virginia.

That was backed up by the biggest week of her career so far, claiming the title at the W100 tournament in Bonita Springs, Florida.

She has climbed up from 202 to 132 in the world rankings over the last two months, which has demonstrated just how much potential she has.

She has been drawn against world No 278 Nigina Abduraimova from Uzbekistan in the first round of qualifying at the French Open.

“It’s been progressing months,” Sun said. 

“The weeks I haven’t played tournaments I’ve been working on court with my coach to improve in every aspect.

“Obviously, playing the Billie Jean King Cup was a big experience for me.

“It reminded me of my university times (at the University of Texas) because it was such a team-oriented competition, so I really enjoyed that.

“Then the last two tournaments in the US, have been really good, in terms of playing a lot of matches and preparing myself for Roland Garros.”

It was a nice way for Sun to begin her time as a player representing New Zealand by playing in the Billie Jean King Cup so soon after the switch, as she got to hang out with the rest of the New Zealand team.

“It was a really lovely experience and all the girls were super nice,” Sun said. 

“It was lovely to be able to compete that week against a lot of tough opponents from different countries. It was definitely one of my highlights.”

It couldn’t have gone much better for Sun during her two weeks in the States after the Billie Jean King Cup, also winning the doubles tournament in Bonita Springs, with Hungary’s Fanny Stollar.

But Sun said her focus for these tournaments wasn’t about picking up silverware, but getting time on court.

“Going into these tournaments, honestly, we just wanted matches and to compete as hard as possible in every single match,” Sun said.

“Obviously, you want to when when you go into a tournament, but for me it was more ‘OK, in my match I want to work on this and this.’

“So each match progressively came and after you win the tournament, it’s like ‘Oh my God, wow!’

“With all the work you put in, you’re happy and proud and it feels very rewarding.”

Sun will play in the qualifying draw at Roland Garros, which is another milestone moment in her young career.

“It’s really exciting to be playing my first Roland Garros as a professional,” she said. 

"I have played there as a junior and playing Slams is every player’s dream. But also competing and going far in those Slams.

“So I’m backing up these wins and it brings confidence to the next matches. I’m really happy about that and I’m going to keep working.”

Sun is a few more good results could see Sun making it onto the main draw acceptance list at Wimbledon. But she says she’s trying not to focus on ranking points, even though she knows the significance of getting it high enough to avoid playing qualifying at grand slams.

“That is the goal, but for me, I’m not looking at the rankings, because the results follow,” she said.

“I’m just working on each individual tournament, each match and every practice I have.

“Off the court, I’m looking at matches and looking at what I have to improve.”

Since announcing she would play with a New Zealand flag next to her name, Sun’s success has been followed even more closely by New Zealand tennis fans and she says that has meant a lot to her.

“I’ve really felt the support and I’ve seen the messages,” she said.

“It does help a lot when you feel that support. Going into a tournament, you have your team, but getting the country’s support as well feels special.”

More News

Tennis NZ - Te Tohu Hapai Special Service Award 20...

Tuesday, 11 June 2024

NOMINATIONS ARE OPEN UNTIL 31 JULY 2024 for Te Tohu Hāpai Award special service ...

Narrow loss for Routliffe and Venus at Roland Garr...

Wednesday, 05 June 2024

Erin Routliffe and Michael lost a close mixed doubles quarterfinal at the French...

Routliffe, Fernandez fall short in third round at ...

Tuesday, 04 June 2024

Erin Routliffe and Leylah Fernandez have gone out in the third round at Roland G...