Teen phenom Mirra Andreeva showed the tennis world what she’s made of yesterday, coming back from 1-5 down in the final set to defeat France’s Diane Parry 1-6, 6-1, 7-6.
Mirra Andreeva, who upset the No. 6 seed Ons Jabeur 6-0, 6-2 in the second round of the Australian Open, has shown her ability to go toe-to-toe with the sport’s top players, but she has yet to show us the full spectrum of her mental fortitude.
We are still getting to know the 16-year-old, who burst on the scene last year at the Mutua Madrid Open, where she advanced to the fourth round. During that run, she posted wins over Leylah Fernandez, Magda Linette, and Beatriz Haddad Maia, all while charming fans with her cheeky post-match interviews. (The run came to an end with a loss to eventual champion Aryna Sabalenka.)
In her major debut at Wimbledon, the former AO girls’ finalist advanced to the second week before losing a tight match to big-hitting American Madison Keys.
Given her age, Andreeva is still bound by age eligibility rules that limit the number of tour-level matches she can contest outside of the majors. The limit is imposed to prevent injury and mental burnout in young players, but it also presents a conundrum – how does one develop the mental fortitude needed to compete at the highest level?
We witnessed Andreeva’s growth in real time yesterday. You could almost see the wheels turning in her mind as she buckled down to do the seemingly impossible.
Andreeva’s comeback in Melbourne
Already down one break and serving at 1-4 in the decider, Andreeva was broken a second time and looked to be on her way out of the tournament. For a brief moment, the look on Andreeva’s face was one of resignation, but the WTA 2023 Newcomer of the Year dug in her heels and worked her way back into the match using the methodical and clever point construction that defines her game.
It was as if Andreeva suddenly figured out how to counter Perry’s relentless slice and off-pace shots, which had troubled her through much of the match. Point-by-point, she clawed her way back from the brink and wrestled the momentum away from Parry. By the time the score was leveled at 5-all in the third, Andreeva seemed destined to come out on top.
She broke Parry to go ahead 6-5, leaving the match on her racquet. When it came time to serve for it, Andreeva wobbled – making an unforced error and rushing a bit through the game, which allowed Parry to break back and even the score.
But upon entering the tie-break, Andreeva doubled down and held her nerve. After an early mini-break in Parry’s favor, Andreeva righted the ship and reeled off a series of points to find herself with five match points. She only needed two to seal the victory.
While Parry did falter at times (she had a good look on match point at 5-2), it was Andreeva who simply refused to concede defeat.
She said as much in her post-match press conference.
“At 6-5 lost my serve, but I didn’t think that was it,” said Andreeva. “I already knew I will win, I just have to do everything for it.”
And she did.
In the super-tiebreak, Andreeva proved steadier and confidently played her own brand of tennis: spin and angles that left Parry out of position as she saw victory snatched from her hands.
Main Photo Credit: Robert Deutsch – USA TODAY Sports