Teenage tennis star Mirra Andreeva is at it again on the grand slam stage. After reaching the third round of the French Open and the fourth round of Wimbledon last season, the 16-year-old is through to the Australian Open third round after a ruthless thrashing of three-time grand slam finalist Ons Jabeur.
Andreeva said the two-time Wimbledon finalist Jabeur was her idol ahead of the second-round match on Rod Laver Arena, but the Russian was utterly ruthless as she thumped the sixth seed 6-0 6-2 in just 54 minutes.
After announcing herself on the grand slam stage last year, Andreeva said the win was the “best match” of her career and the 16-year-old will now hope to build on her victory with a deep run in Melbourne Park.
“Of course I’m happy I played with Ons,” Andeeva said. “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.”
Andreeva revealed she was starting her new year at school as the Australian Open began. “I still don’t like chemistry,” she said. “I still have to do a lot of school. It actually started two days ago, so I have to do it.”
Who is Mirra Andreeva?
Born in April 2007, Andreeva says she was introduced to the sport by her mother from a very early age. The Russian has an older sister who is also a professional tennis player, Erika Andreeva.
"Actually, I didn’t pick this sport. My mom did,” Andreeva told the WTA last season. “I’m really happy that my mom picked this sport because I feel that I really belong to this sport."
Andreeva made her big breakthrough when she reached the girls’ final at the Australian Open last year, where she was beaten by fellow Russian Alina Korneeva.
“Honestly, after I lost the final, I was just super upset. I didn’t think about anything else,” she said as she returned to Melbourne Park. “For maybe a week I was just replaying the match in my head, and I was thinking, This, I should have changed this, should have changed that, I should have changed this.
“Honestly, after that, after all my complaints to myself, I forgot about this match. I decided to move on. It’s not the most painful loss of my life. I will have, I’m sure, a lot of offensive matches where I may be late in the score and then I lose. Maybe. I hope this will not happen, but I think it will because it’s tennis.”
After putting the defeat behind her, Andreeva turned professional this year and made her WTA breakthrough on clay at the Madrid Open, reaching the third round.
Upon arriving at her first grand slam at Roland Garros, Andreeva won three matches in qualifying to reach the main draw. She was knocked out by in three sets by Coco Gauff in the third round, with the American also beating Andreeva in the second round of the US Open on her way to winning her first grand slam title.
Andreeva, who was ranked outside the world’s top 300 before cracking the top 100 in 2023, showed her confidence by declaring her dream in tennis was to “win 25 grand slam titles” after being inspired by Novak Djokovic’s pursuit of the men’s record.
At Wimbledon, Andreeva impressed with her fearless, attacking play and powerful forehand, but the 16-year-old also wears her heart on her sleeve and was an emotional player on the court.
It spilled over in a fourth-round defeat to American Madison Keys. There was a huge moment of controversy late in the match as Andreeva was given a point penalty for throwing her racket into the ground for the second time in the contest. Andreeva had slipped behind the baseline, appearing to go over her ankle, before her racket came out of her hand.
The point penalty gave Keys match point - which the American won with a volley at the net after Andreeva thought she had saved it with an ace. Andreeva did not shake hands with the umpire after the defeat.
“For me it’s a controversial point,” Andreeva said. “She’s the umpire. She’s the one who makes the decision.
“But, honestly, I didn’t have any intention to throw the racket. I slid. Honestly, I thought that I will fall forward.
“Maybe it did look like I threw the racket. I don’t know. I didn’t see any videos yet. But that was her decision to make, so she made this decision. Now that’s it. She made the decision, so the match is over now.”
Asked about why she didn’t shake the umpire’s hand, Andreeva replied: “She didn’t do a right decision for me. That’s why I didn’t want to shake hands to her.”
The fortnight was still one to remember for the teenager, who incredibly had not played a single professional match on grass before she arrived at Wimbledon qualifying.
She entered the 2024 season having broken into the world’s top 50, which earned her an automatic place in the Australian Open main draw.
Why is she such a fan of Andy Murray?
During her breakthrough at the Madrid Open, Andreeva said she was star-struck when she saw Andy Murray in the player’s restaurant.
"When you sit here and take in all the stars, like Andy Murray, you see his face,” Andreeva said. “He is so beautiful in life. Sorry, he is so amazing.”
Andreeva congratulated Murray after he won a Challenger title in France ahead of Roland Garros, with the two-time Wimbledon champion responding to the text.
"He actually answered me, so I was really happy about it,” Andreeva said. “He said, ‘Thank you, and good luck in Roland Garros.”
It certainly worked as Andreeva reached the third round, and the teenager said Murray was her “good luck charm”.
However upon arriving at Wimbledon, Andreeva said she was “too shy” to talk to her hero.
“I met Andy Murray here,” Andreeva revealed. “But I’m too shy to talk to him. When I see him, I try to leave the facility super quick just to not to talk to him because I’m super shy.”