MIRRA ANDREEVA LEFT the 2023 Australian Open in tears.
She had lost to her close friend Alina Korneeva in a marathon three-set match in the junior final, and after three hours and 17 minutes, she couldn’t hide her emotions during the trophy presentation or as she walked off the court at Rod Laver Arena.
What a difference a year makes.
On Wednesday, the now-16-year-old Andreeva played at Rod Laver for the first time since that devastating loss. This time, she defeated three-time major finalist Ons Jabeur in staggering, head-turning fashion 6-0, 6-2, in the second round of the main draw.
Then on Friday, she cemented her place in tennis lore by staging the most improbable of comebacks. Trailing Diane Parry 5-1 in the deciding set, Andreeva staved off match point and relentlessly clawed her way back to win the match 1-6, 6-1, 7-6 (5). Each point won, each “Come on!” she yelled to herself, enamored her more to the packed-to-capacity crowd on Court 3 and to those on social media, including Andy Murray.
Andreeva down 5-1 in third. Commentator “she really needs to work on mental side of her game.. she’s too hard on herself when she’s losing”
30 minutes later 7-6 Andreeva wins.
Maybe the reason she turned the match round is because of her mental strength. Maybe she turned the…
— Andy Murray (@andy_murray) January 19, 2024
Darren Cahill proclaimed she would be “deeply entrenched in the top 10” within the next year on the ESPN broadcast moments after the match.
“Everything she needs to be a superstar in this game, she’s got it,” Cahill said.
It’s been a wild, star-making year since Andreeva’s heartbreak in Melbourne. She played in two ITF tournaments following the loss. She won them both. Playing as a wild card, Andreeva won her first WTA match at the 1000-level Madrid Open in April. She went on to win again. And again. She ultimately reached the Round of 16. Her fearless play spoke for itself, and charming interviews only furthered her status as one to watch.
Her rise continued over the next few months. Coming through qualifying at both events, she reached the third round at the French Open and the fourth round at Wimbledon. By October she had cracked the top 50 and was named the WTA’s 2023 Newcomer of the Year in December.
In the new year, she’s been even better.
Andreeva reached the quarterfinals in Brisbane earlier this month, and now she has a chance to reach the quarterfinals at a major for the first time. When she…