June 24, 2024

Open Court

MORE TENNIS THAN YOU'LL EVER NEED

Neither rain, nor sleet, nor dead of night will stop Mirra Andreeva

ROLAND GARROS – You know what’s easy when you’re a mere lass of 17?

Everything.

Rain, delays, cancellations, 1 a.m. finishes, double-headers – none of it has been a problem for Russian teenager Mirra Andreeva so far during this Roland Garros.

In only her fifth Grand Slam main draw, Andreeva already is in the singles quarterfinals, after making the third round a year ago. There hasn’t been a lot overthinking; what there has been is just … a lot of doing.

Andreeva also made the sweet 16 at Wimbledon last year in her first appearance, and the sweet 16 at the Australian Open back in January – also in her first appearance, a year after reaching the junior final as a 15-year-old.

Andreeva takes on Aryna Sabalenka on Wednesday, a player who has beaten her easily the last two years on the clay in Madrid. The winner is into the semifinals.

A wet, but successful road

After rolling past American Emina Bektas in the first round, Andreeva found herself waiting, and waiting, through a long day of rain. Finally, she and Nike twinsie Victoria Azarenka – twice her age – found themselves on small Court 12 for Round 2, in an absolute battle.

Andreeva prevailed, 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 and finished on the dot of 1 a.m.

“First, we went on court. It was around 10:00 p.m. I usually already in bed by that time. … We were supposed to play on Court 14 with kind of big (stands). Then they changed the court, so we needed to warm up faster. That was a bit hard,” Andreeva recalled.

“That was kind of a thriller, but after, of course, I was very excited. I was really happy that people, they stayed until the end because usually what I’ve seen is that when you play a late match, there’s not a lot of people and you’re, like, in the dark. It’s so depressing. No one is watching, and it’s cold. You are playing, fighting, and no one is there,” she added. “It felt really nice that people stayed until the end.
It was a lot of people cheering for us, and it was nice.”

The third round was against American Peyton Stearns, an in-form and tough competitor who had just eliminated No. 10 seed Daria Kasatkina in straight sets.

Another rainy day, another late start – although not nearly as late as against Azarenka. And another small court – this time, Court 2.

Andreeva took it all in stride and rolled over Stearns, 6-2, 6-1, finishing just before the rain might have interrupted play.

Here’s that one.

Fourth round against practice pal Gracheva

Andreeva, who is based in the south of France, has practiced with fellow Russian Varvara Gracheva often over the last two years.

Except Gracheva is now a French citizen. And so of course she had the crowd as they played on a bigger court, Simonne-Mathieu.

Slow start, great finish as Andreeva prevailed 7-5, 6-2 over Gracheva, who is having a terrible season but got things going in Paris with a three-set upset win over Maria Sakkari in the first round.

“Well, in the beginning a little bit (there were boos), but then I just kind of adjusted it for my advantage. I know now how to use it for myself, not against. I think that I did a good job with it, and it actually was helping me a little bit to fire me up from inside,” Andreeva said.

A doubles run as well

For Andreeva, it’s not only a run in singles – her first Grand Slam quarterfinal – but an impressive run in doubles as well.

She’s paired up with 39-year-old Vera Zvonareva, who won the WTA Finals with Laura Siegemund in Cancun last November but who could probably be considered semi-retired at this point. The two also paired up in Madrid and Rome this year, two of only four tournaments in 2024 where Andreeva has also played doubles.

Zvonareva still has a high doubles ranking. So she has played a few tournaments this year. Why not?

Unseeded, Andreeva and Zvonareva haven’t dropped a set in getting to the quarterfinals. And out of a section that originally contained No. 7 seeds Bouzkova and Sorribes Tormo and No. 9 seeds Fernandez and Erin Routliffe, they instead will meet the unseeded pair of Marta Kostyuk and Elena-Gabriela Ruse for a spot in the doubles semis.

They’ll play at the end of today. But first, she takes on Sabalenka in singles.

Reversing the head-to-head?

Andreeva wouldn’t say what she was planning to change from their first two meetings.

“Well, of course we will add a few adjustments. We will change something, because the way I played last two times didn’t work. So of course – me, I don’t have anything in my head, so I hope my coach will help me with it. Because me, I’m a player who goes on court and I’m just playing and I see how things are and then I can adjust a little bit during my match,” Andreeva said.

“But here, I feel she’s really experienced. She’s a player of another level, so I have to be prepared from the beginning. I hope my coach will help me with that, and, well, we’ll see how it goes.”

For all of our Roland Garros stories from this year’s edition, click here.

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