Teenager Mirra Andreeva stuns idol Ons Jabeur in Australian Open second round

Russian 16-year-old demolishes sixth seed 6-0, 6-2 to continue her brilliant rise in tennis

As Mirra Andreeva first emerged at the top level of her sport last May, clinching her first Grand Slam win at the French Open, the 16-year-old had one humble goal beyond continuing her meteoric rise: she wanted a practice session with Ons Jabeur, her idol.

Instead, their first meeting on a tennis court came in the most significant match of Andreeva’s young career. Under the Rod Laver Arena roof on Wednesday afternoon, Andreeva demolished Jabeur 6-0, 6-2 to reach the third round of the Australian Open for the first time in her career.

“Of course I’m happy I played with Ons,” said Andreeva. “It was one of my dreams to play against her, because I really like the way she plays. As I said before, I’m inspired by her. So it means a lot, today it meant a lot, this match that I won.”

Over the past eight months, Andreeva has emerged as the newest, brightest young star of her sport and the teenager had already toppled a remarkable five top 20 opponents in just nine tour level events. Jabeur, though, is her first ever top 10 win, a monumental step in her career. Andreeva will face Diane Parry of France in the third round, a great opportunity to continue her run.


Despite the significance of the occasion and a match-up she had dreamed of for so long, Andreeva was ready. She burst into the match playing at a high level from the first ball; she served well, she soaked Jabeur’s first strike with her excellent defence while stepping inside the baseline whenever the opportunity presented itself and she responded to Jabeur’s trademark variety with her own guile.

Across the net, though, Jabeur was dire. She bailed out of points with rash, low percentage shot-making, moving sluggishly from the baseline as her backhand in particular sprayed a constant stream of errors. It took Andreeva just 20 minutes to sweep up the first set, with Jabeur managing to win just eight points in the entire set.

After seeking counsel from her team between sets, Jabeur immediately took her first game with a searing forehand winner before celebrating with a finger in the air. It proved to be one of her few positive moments all afternoon as Andreeva maintained her high level until the end while errors flowed from Jabeur’s racket.

Such a result has been coming for Andreeva ever since her breakthrough last summer, with the Russian reaching the third round at the French Open and fourth round at Wimbledon from qualifying.

At such a young age, Andreeva is already such an extremely well rounded player. An excellent athlete and an intelligent player, she also has the firepower to take control from the baseline, particularly with her excellent backhand. Her first serve already carries significant pace and much room for improvement. One of the reasons why she likes Jabeur so much is their shared affinity for drop shots and playing with variety.

Although her schedule was significantly limited by the WTA’s age eligibility rules, Andreeva continued to consistently push top players towards the end of last season, gaining experience with every win or loss. Andreeva then began this year with a statement, reaching her first WTA 500 quarter-final with a win over No 15 Ludmilla Samsonova.

While she continues to battle with the best tennis players in the world, Andreeva still combines her work on the court with school. On Monday, the day she became the youngest player since Coco Gauff to win a match at all four Grand Slam tournaments, her new school semester began. “I still don’t like chemistry,” she said, smiling.

Jabeur, meanwhile, remains in an extremely difficult part of her career following her crushing loss to Marketa Vondrousova in last year’s Wimbledon final, her third defeat in a major final, a match she was heavily favoured to win.

In a documentary released earlier this month, the Tunisian underlined just what a significant moment that was for her. If she had won Wimbledon, she had planned to take maternity leave from the sport. She came so close, yet she is again so far away from her ultimate goal.

A few hours after her victory, Andreeva was asked to explain why she looked up to Jabeur. She answered immediately: “After the match, she came to me, she wished me luck,” said Andreeva. “I just know that she is who she is and she never changed. That’s what I like about her.”

Meanwhile, Coco Gauff, the fourth seed, continued her excellent form as she reached the third round with a 7-6 (2), 6-2 win over Caroline Dolehide. Caroline Wozniacki, however, was unable to establish any momentum in her comeback to professional tennis as she was defeated 1-6, 6-4, 6-1 by Maria Timofeeva, another Russian youngster, on Wednesday.

“I’m really a bit speechless,” Timofeeva said. “It’s an honour play here against Caroline. I went into the match without any expectations, just wanted to show what I was capable of.”

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