Wimbledon 2023: Mirra Andreeva, the latest teenage sensation in women’s Tennis

Russia’s Andreeva is the youngest player to reach the fourth round at Wimbledon since Coco Gauf.

Published : Jul 11, 2023 12:09 IST , CHENNAI - 6 MINS READ

Russia’s Mirra Andreeva in action during her fourth-round match against Madison Keys.
Russia’s Mirra Andreeva in action during her fourth-round match against Madison Keys. | Photo Credit: REUTERS

Russia’s Mirra Andreeva in action during her fourth-round match against Madison Keys. | Photo Credit: REUTERS

At the age of 16, Mirra Andreeva has her goals set. She wants to play until she wins at least 25 Majors.

Russia’s Andreeva is the latest teenage star in women’s tennis. She is the youngest player to reach the fourth round at Wimbledon since Coco Gauff, then 15, made the round of 16 at SW19 four years ago. Like the American, Andreeva too began her campaign from the qualifying round. But this is not where Andreeva’s story began.

Andreeva, who was born in the Russian town of Krasnoyarsk but stays in France’s Cannes, made her Tour-level debut at the WTA 250 event in Monastir, Tunisia, last year as a wildcard. She lost 3-6, 7-6(4), 3-6 to compatriot Anastasia Potapova in the opening round.

In 2023, she reached the final of the junior Australian Open, going down to another compatriot Alina Korneeva 7-6(2), 4-6, 5-7 in a three hour and 18-minute-long duel. The loss left Andreeva in tears. Korneeva said, “I want to congratulate Mirra for this amazing week, amazing battle... it’s not our last battle, we will have a lot of good matches.”

While both Andreeva and Korneeva played senior events on the ITF circuit post Australia, the former had another shot at Tour-level tennis when she received a wildcard for the Madrid Masters. This is where she showed her true potential.

Andreeva knocked out 2021 US Open finalist Leylah Fernandez in straight sets in the opening round. Beatriz Haddad Maia and Magda Linette, two players who are Grand Slam semifinalists, went down to her too.

“I’m not really surprised with my level, because I know the way I can play on the court. But, of course, I didn’t expect to be here and go this far,” said the Russian after beating Linette on her 16th birthday. Reigning Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka finally stopped the junior Australian Open finalist’s dream run in the fourth round but, by then, the statement had been made — Andreeva had beaten three Top-40 players in a week and became the youngest player ever to reach the last 16 of a WTA 1000 event.

Read: Wimbledon 2023: Pegula vs Vondrousova, quarterfinal preview, Head-to-head record, live streaming info

Therefore, it wasn’t really a surprise when Andreeva entered the senior French Open at Roland-Garros this year and cruised through the qualifying rounds. Fellow-teen Gauff, the 2022 runner-up, ended the Russian’s stay at the clay Major in the third round but not before dropping the first set, courtesy Andreeva’s explosive power from the baseline.

“Mirra, she’s super young and has a big future for her. I remember when I was here as a 15-year-old... she has a lot to look forward to,” said the American after the victory.

However, Andreeva’s performance at Wimbledon has surprised many, and for the right reasons. The Russian has never played on grass. According to the tournament website, in her first practice session at Roehampton, Andreeva fell thrice as she tried to understand the bounce and the movement. Yet, she dropped only seven games in her first two matches in the qualifying round before beating Tamara Korpatsch 7-5, 5-7, 6-2 to make it to the main draw for the second Major in a row.

Since then, she has beaten World No. 65 Xiyu Wang, 2021 French Open champion Krejcikova (the 10th-seeded Czech retired while trailing 4-6, 0-3) and Potapova, her first opponent on the Tour. She was up by a set and a break against Madison Keys before the 25th-seeded American, who reached the 2017 US Open final, came back to win 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-2. Victory over Keys would have made her the youngest quarterfinalist at the grass Major since Anna Kournikova in 1997 but the pressure eventually got to her as she broke down in tears towards the end of the match and also received a point-penalty for racquet abuse.

Andreeva’s on-court adventures have been closely followed and will be available in the second instalment of Break Point, the Netflix series on the life of professional tennis players. “They (Netflix crew) are following me. They’re actually somewhere here, I guess. I don’t know. They just follow me. They’re super nice people. So far, I haven’t noticed anything bad in them. They’re super nice,” said the Russian at the press conference after the match against Krejcikova.

Off the court, Andreeva is just like any teenager. She hates chemistry, sometimes skips her homework for her online courses and loves to watch TV series whenever possible.

Read:Wimbledon 2023: Swiatek vs Svitolina, quarterfinal preview, Head-to-head record, live streaming info

‘Murray is amazing’

In her interviews, the Russian has, on multiple occasions, talked about her admiration for three-time Major winner and former World No. 1 Andy Murray. In an interview with Tennis Channel during the Madrid Masters, she said, “When you’re here and have lunch with all these stars, you see Andy Murray… you see his face and he’s so beautiful in life. He is so amazing.”

Murray, who is known for his sense of humour, tweeted in response to that interview clip, saying, “Imagine how good she’s going to be when she gets her eyes fixed.”

Recently, at Wimbledon, Andreeva saw Murray but was too shy to talk to him. “When I see him, I try to leave the facility super quick just to not to talk to him because I’m super shy,” quipped the Russian.

In the present-day scenario, it is not that common to have teenage sensations on the WTA Tour and that is why, whenever someone’s name does come up, the spotlight is immediately on them. A case in point — Emma Raducanu at the 2021 US Open. Players like Jennifer Capriati, Monica Seles, Martina Hingis, Steffi Graf, Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario, Gabriela Sabatini and many others dominated the tennis world in their teens in the 1980s and ’90s. Graf played her first Grand Slam main draw match at the French Open when she was just 13.

However, going full tilt so early in their careers also led to burn-outs, most of them could not play singles beyond the age of 30 and retired.

Age eligibility rule

In 1994, the WTA introduced the age eligibility rule (AER) according to which players aged 14 to 17 cannot play the entire schedule, which adults can. A player aged 14 can play in a maximum of eight professional events. The number is 10 for age 15, 12 for age 16 and 16 for age 17 with four additional tournaments allowed based on merit.

As WTA mentions on its website, “Each player is required to complete a physical examination, complete the minimum educational requirements of her country, and participate in related training and educational activities that promote her health, safety and career longevity.”

It is still early days for Andreeva, but the Russian is already up to 64th in the live WTA Rankings. However, with the AER in place, it will be a gradual process for her to move to higher level tournaments in accordance with her age.

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