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In the Spotlight: Mirra Andreeva

In the Spotlight: Mirra Andreeva

Capped by a recent run to the semifinals of Roland Garros, the success and accolades have been coming thick and fast for Mirra Andreeva ever since she burst onto tennis’ biggest stages last year. Still, the young Russian has had some time of late to look back over the past 12 months or so, reflecting on her time as a junior, her collaboration with coach Conchita Martinez and the successes that so far have seen her triumph on the courts and on social media.

Thinking back to her time as a Junior Tour player, Andreeva was surprised by her own results when we told her about her Tennis Europe record, which includes 22 finals and 17 wins across doubles and singles, “I really played more than 20 finals!? That’s cool!” 

Reminiscing about her #TEJT days, she laughs, “I actually don’t really remember playing great tennis when I was a kid. I’m impressed that I have so many victories in singles and doubles when I was younger.”

One year on from having burst onto the scene, the youngster is pragmatic when assessing her subsequent improvement as a player, “Inside I feel the same. I just think that I don’t have experience, but I know how to change the game if it’s going wrong or not the way I want it to go.”

She admits that when she was (even) younger, “I would hope that maybe a match would turn around differently and that the opponent does something for me. Now I know that, well, if I don’t do anything I will not win, so maybe this changed.”

The Russian has been deftly climbing the rankings since debuting on the professional circuit.  Boosting her WTA status in Madrid in 2023 when she reached the fourth round, Andreeva has gone from strength to strength ever since. Now, her record-breaking run to the semifinals at Roland Garros has propelled her to new heights of international sporting stardom.

Expressive by nature on court, she recognizes that she needs to rein in those explosive moments when the going gets tough, acknowledging that this will come with more time on the tour. “I think you can see that I’m still not really experienced…but in those moments I don’t think too much, and I just have a song that I keep singing in my head and I don’t really think about the match.”

Working since the start of spring under the tutelage of Conchita Martinez - the 1994 Wimbledon champion and former coach of now retired Slam winner Garbiñe Muguruza - Andreeva has taken further steps forward. Martinez has brought a wealth of knowledge to the Andreeva team. “She puts more positivity into my game and into my head, and I really like that. She has taught me to be happy about the small things that I do on court. I feel that this really helps me. I think we have a long way to go, and she has a lot of things that she wants to work on,” contemplates the Russian.

It can sometimes be daunting to get out of your comfort zone and make changes to your game. Martinez’s calibre as a player has helped Andreeva learn some new techniques and adapt her game to various surfaces and styles. “The first thing we worked on was the slice, as she was a good slicer. I feel like I can use it more in my game, especially on clay, to change the rhythm sometimes. I don’t use it a lot, only when I feel like I need to or if I’m defending.” As far as changes Martinez has made to her game so far, “it’s definitely the number one thing.” 

Learning to deal with pressure and the strain of having to defend ranking points rather than simply progress to a new circuit is another way that Andreeva how shown growth and maturity. “Before Madrid I had a lot of pressure on me. I created it myself, but it helps me. I mean Aryna Sabalenka had to defend a title in Madrid, and I just had to defend three rounds. That’s a big difference, but it’ll happen every year and you cannot run or hide from that. So, this is just a thing that I have to accept and that’s it.”

Madrid was where it all kicked off for Andreeva last year, and the tournament holds a special place in the heart of the player now on the cusp of the Top 20. “I kind of feel like Madrid is my place of power or something like this. I feel confident there and on the courts. I like the atmosphere, the facilities and everyone is so nice. And with Conchita speaking Spanish, it’s so easy! (smiles). She does everything and I just walk behind her!”

Speaking of Sabalenka, it was the Belorussian who ended Andreeva’s giant-killing run in Madrid when she made waves as a 15-year-old wildcard recipient in 2023. She turned 16 while in Madrid last year and lost to the eventual champ in round 4. This year the world #2 spoiled the Andreeva party in Madrid yet again, albeit one round later in the quarterfinals. But at Roland Garros, Andreeva advanced to a Slam quarterfinal for the first time where she was finally able to score a win over Sabalenka.

Andreeva could’ve been forgiven for being excited for her win over the world #2. But there was no exuberance or displays of elation, as the youngster clearly wanted more. “I didn’t expect this. Before the match I thought, ‘if I beat Sabalenka I can be in the semifinals, that could be a dream.’

Ultimately her Paris run ended in the semis against Jasmine Paolini, another player surging up the rankings this year. Nonetheless, Mirra etched a spot in the tennis world’s psyche by becoming the youngest semifinalist in Paris since Martina Hingis in 1997. 

Moving forward, Andreeva is very forthcoming about how she relies on instinct and plays in the moment, noting that every match brings a different set of challenges. “I always play the way I want to play. With the coach we have a plan, but after that I forget everything, and when I play a match, I don’t have any thoughts in my head, so I would say that my strength would be that I just play how I want to play, and I do whatever I want to do. Maybe this helps me when I play.”

It's clear that the rapport between Andreeva and Martinez is having a beneficial effect on her game, and Andreeva understands that at this budding stage of her career, what Martinez can bring to the table is invaluable. “If you look back to Garbiñe’s career, you can say that Conchita is a good coach. So, I hope that she helps me to achieve something like Garbiñe, but so far, I really enjoy working with her and I think we might have a big future ahead of us.”

Photo: Andreeva on her way to her second Junior Tour title, at the 12 & Under event in Riga in 2019.


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