Alex de Minaur continued his fine form on clay at the Madrid Open on Saturday, but the day belonged to 16-year-old Mirra Andrreva as she continued her stunning run. The Russian teenager found the perfect way to celebrate her 16th birthday at the WTA 1000 event, beating Australian Open semi-finalist Magda Linette in straight sets.
Andreeva's win came after she beat 2021 US Open finalist Leyleh Fernandez in the first round to become the third-youngest player in history to win a main-draw match at WTA 1000 level. She then beat the 14th-ranked Beatriz Haddad Maia in the second round, with both victories coming while she was still 15.
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The fact she turned 16 on Saturday didn't hamper her winnings ways, as she proved too good for Linette in a 6-3 6-3 masterclass. Her next challenge? World No.2 and Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka.
"I didn't expect to be here and playing Sabalenka in the round of 16," Andreeva said. "I'm not really surprised with my level, because I know the way I can play. But, of course, I didn't expect to be here and go this far.
"I have nothing to lose. I have to go there and show the best tennis I can. There is no pressure at all on me. There is some on her, I think, because she is going to play against a 16-year-old girl. I am pretty excited to play tomorrow."
Andreeva first caught the attention of the tennis world when she made the junior girls final at the Australian Open in January. Her next opponent might not have seen that match because she was busy preparing for the women's final.
Sabalenka advanced to the third round after beating Camila Osorio 6-4 7-5. The Belarusian is seeking to reclaim the Madrid title she won in 2021.
Home favourite Paula Badosa gave the locals what they wanted by knocking out sixth-seeded Coco Gauff 6-3 6-0. Jelena Ostapenko was thrashed by Liudmila Samsonova 6-2 6-0, while Irina-Camilia Begu eased past Shelby Rogers 7-5 6-2.
No.24 seed Elise Mertens also won 6-3 6-4 against Jule Niemeier of Germany. But Andreeva was the talk of the tennis world after her latest incredible display.
I can't believe Mirra Andreeva is real, this is incredible
— Dre (@barbsclaycikova) April 29, 2023
This is impossible to happen in the ATP
— Camilo Saade (@CamiloSaade) April 29, 2023
— Ultras Alcaraz🎾 (@a97045236) April 29, 2023
Absolutely amazing 🤩
— MonaLisa (@fan_djoker1) April 29, 2023
This girl has talent
— GP JD (@JD_F1_) April 29, 2023
The amount of depth, power and precision to Andreeva's bh returns is insane. Never seen something like it in WTA. She's able to absorb and reflect fast balls so well. Lefty brainlets like Haddad Maia just can't stop targeting, serving to her bh. They lost before the match began
— ⛓ (@SamardzicFlair) April 27, 2023
OH MY GOD MIRRA ANDREEVA YOU TALENTED TALENTED GIRL
— sher • (@sherluvsu1) April 27, 2023
— Biola Solace-Chukwu (@Beeorlicious) April 29, 2023
Alex de Minaur the lone Aussie remaining in Madrid
In the men's draw, de Minaur advanced with a 6-4 7-6 (7-5) win over former French Open semi-finalist Marco Cecchinato, becoming the last Aussie standing in Madrid. Fellow Sydneysider Chris O'Connell was defeated in straight sets by American Taylor Fritz, and there are no Australian women in the main draw due to Ajla Tomljanovic and Daris Saville being out injured.
It means de Minaur will be the only Aussie flying the flag in the second week in the Spanish capital. His next opponent will be Aslan Karatsev, the Russian who made a dramatic breakthrough to reach the semi-finals at the Australian Open in 2021 but is currently well down in the world rankings at 121.
Cecchinato had got the better of Minaur three times previously on clay - the Italian's preferred surface - twice at Roland Garros and once at the Italian Open. But this time the Aussie turned the tables, saving five break points as he went on to win the first set.
De Minaur also held firm on some crucial points in the second, sealing a hard-earned victory after an hour and 45 minutes. In the Arantxa Sanchez Stadium, O'Connell succumbed in a thrilling first-set tiebreak that went to 24 points, eventually going on to lose 7-6 (13-11) 6-4.
Elsewhere, second seed Daniil Medvedev knocked out qualifier Andrea Vavassori 6-4 6-3, and fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas fought back to beat Dominic Thiem 3-6 6-1 7-6 (7-5). Tsitispas made a staggering 39 successive first serves from late in the first set to early in the third.
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