Lionhearted Spanish student hopes not to reach Roland Garros final

Paris (AFP) –


World number 137 Aliona Bolsova is 400-1 with the bookmakers to win the French Open, which is just as well as she has a university exam on the day of the final.

The 21-year-old has marked her Roland Garros debut by reaching the third round having battled through qualifying.

Instead of just concentrating on her next match in Paris against 58th-ranked Ekaterina Alexandrova, she admits she is already fretting over neglecting her geography and history of art studies in Barcelona.

"I hope I'm not in the final, I have an exam that day," said Bolsova after beating Romania's Sorana Cirstea 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (7/3) on Thursday.

"I'll have to plead with the teacher to get it changed, I should be studying."

Bolsova, born in Moldova and the daughter of two Olympic champions, was once a top junior.

She reached number four in the world junior rankings and reached her first final on the second-tier ITF circuit at just 14.

However, injury and a lack of motivation eventually steered her away from tennis and into the academic world.

She moved to the US on a scholarship and studied at colleges in Oklahoma and Florida.

Once her studies there were complete, she was persuaded to give tennis another go and the decision paid off.

Her ranking has risen from 477 at the turn of the year and she made the second round on clay at the WTA Charleston event in April.

"There are many things that I would like to study, I have an artist's point of view and I like to draw," said Bolsova, who sports a dramatic lion tattoo on her left upper-arm.

Bolsova moved with her family from Moldova to Palafrugell, in Catalonia, when she was very small.

But she is not tempted to make Moldova her permanent home again.

"I went back once (to Moldova), it was winter and everything was snowy."

However, she would like to emulate both her parents by taking part in the Olympics in the future.

That may prove tricky -- at the moment, she is only the Spanish number six.

"My dream is to go to the Olympics because all my family -- my parents and my grandparents were there," said Bolsova.

"I also dream of winning a Grand Slam when it comes to tennis."

She admitted that her run in Paris, where she has now won five matches, has left her pleasantly surprised.

"I'm working with a psychologist on positivity, breathing, those things, I've only been learning to be a professional for a year," she said.