July 20, 2024
Chicago 12, Melborne City, USA

Mirra Andreeva: Teen Tennis Prodigy in French Open Semis

Mirra Andreeva

Mirra Andreeva, a 17-year-old tennis sensation from Russia, approaches her matches with a carefree attitude, preferring to improvise rather than strictly adhere to a game plan set by her coach. This approach seems to be working wonders for her, as she recently became the youngest Grand Slam semifinalist in over 25 years.

In her sixth major tournament, Andreeva defeated the No. 2 seed, Aryna Sabalenka, 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-4, at the French Open. This victory set up a semifinal clash with No. 12 seed Jasmine Paolini of Italy, who achieved her first major semifinal by overcoming No. 4 seed Elena Rybakina.

Andreeva, ranked 38th and based in Cannes, is coached by 1994 Wimbledon champion Conchita Martinez. She describes her playing style as spontaneous, often forgetting the pre-match strategies discussed with her coach. “I always play the way I want to play. We have a plan, but I forget it and just play my game,” she says, emphasizing her instinctual approach.

Thursday’s other semifinal features No. 1 seed Iga Swiatek against No. 3 seed Coco Gauff. Both players are accomplished, with Swiatek aiming for her fifth Grand Slam title and Gauff having won the U.S. Open last year.

Andreeva’s rise is reminiscent of Martina Hingis, who reached a Grand Slam semifinal at 16 in 1997. In the French Open, the last time a player this young defeated a top-ranked woman was in 1990 when Monica Seles, then 16, beat Steffi Graf.

Despite her youth, Andreeva balances her tennis career with typical teenage activities, including schoolwork, watching TV series, and spending time on social media. However, she believes her maturity sets her apart. “I feel myself a mature person, and I know what I’m doing,” she says.

Her instinctive gameplay involves quick decision-making on the court, which sometimes overwhelms her with options. This dynamic was evident against Sabalenka, a seasoned player with two Australian Open titles. Despite Sabalenka’s initial dominance, Andreeva’s adaptability and Sabalenka’s stomach illness led to a stunning victory for the young Russian.

Andreeva’s semifinal against Paolini promises to be intriguing, especially given their recent match in Madrid, where Andreeva emerged victorious. Paolini, who has significantly improved her Grand Slam performance this year, acknowledges Andreeva’s strong mental game and versatile skills, making for a challenging but exciting matchup.

Source: https://apnews.com/article/french-open-6-5-2024-results-b5550e0e500c05b170cb30c973c85616

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