16-year old Mirra Andreeva upset top qualifying seed Camila Osorio to secure her place in the singles main draw at Roland Garros on Thursday, her maiden Grand Slam appearance, and hopes that her older sister, 18-year old Erika will follow her with a win on Friday.
The difference between the juniors and the women's tour is pretty big. In juniors you can let yourself relax for a little bit, if you have the better level. But here you have to fight for every point. No one will give you anything in any match. Mirra Andreeva
Erika is also competing in the qualifying rounds for the French Open, and has a 3rd-round clash on Friday against Olga Danilovic.
“Like any sister, I want her to win,” said Mirra. “I’m really nervous when she plays. If we both make the main draw it would be even more amazing. Its been one of our dreams to play a big tournament together.
“As all sisters, we used to fight a lot over the smallest things, for the TV remote, who will switch the channel. Let’s say, now we’re grown ups, we really appreciate each other and appreciate the time together on tour.”
Mirra Andreeva clinched her first major main draw berth with a 7-6(8) 6-4 win over Osorio in an hour and 59 minutes.
“Of course, when I was a kid watching the TV, I remember Rafa against Federer,” the World No 143 said afterwards. “I was cheering for Roger! I watched every Grand Slam, all the time growing up.
“This is a dream to be here. I played juniors last year, this is just amazing.”
Andreeva reached the quarter-finals in the girls’ event last summer, and is stunned by her sharp rise.
“After the juniors I didn’t really think I could do something like this, but I was just working, working more, fighting in practice, fighting in tournaments and here I am,” continued Andreeva, who was a Last 16 surprise package at the WTA 1000 in Madrid earlier this month. “The difference between the juniors and the women’s tour is pretty big.
“In juniors you can let yourself relax for a little bit, if you have the better level. But here you have to fight for every point. No one will give you anything in any match.”
Andreeva was unranked just 14 months ago, but has risen to 143 and is the youngest player in the Top 300, while her 2023 pro record now stands at an impressive 20-2 and 2 ITF titles already under belt.
Osorio has also been in fine clay-court form, having reached the 3rd-round in Madrid and 4th-round in Rome to return to the Top 100, and this marquee match lived up to expectations, particularly in a razor-tight first set in which both players showed off subtle, tactical tennis in their efforts to out-smart each other.
The Colombian started faster, building a 3-0 lead before Andreeva responded to win 4 straight games.
Osorio then took 3 of the next 4 games, and held the first set point of the set at 6-5, only to net her attempted drop-shot.
That particular shot was to prove both the World No 84’s strength and her undoing because, in the tiebreak filled with absorbing rallies, Osorio saved a second set point against her with an absurdly angled drop-shot but then, facing a third, she netted another one.
The second set was almost as close, and Andreeva trailed by the first break at 2-3, but the teenager was in full flow with pin-point lobs and drop-shots of her own, as well as a superb reflex volley to break for 5-3.
She was unable to serve the match out, though, but broke Osorio to claim her first major main draw appearance.
Last year, the 16-year-old Russian relocated with her sister to the Elite Tennis Center (ETC) in Cannes.
“I’m sorry to say, but I used to hate France as I really struggled here in a lot of junior events,” admitted Mirra. “At the academy I started lonely, then everyone was really nice, and now I can call it my second home.”
Other winners on Thursday included Ukraine’s Dayana Yastremska and Elizabeth Mandlik from the USA in 3-set nail-biters, which dominated the remainder of Day 4’s action, when 6 of the 16 qualifiers were decided.
Yastremska, a former World No 21, closed out the action with a valiant 6-3 2-6 6-4 upset of Belgium’s 25th seed Greet Minnen in 2 hours and 5 minutes.
Minnen seemed to have a stranglehold on the contest when she came through 7 deuces, saving 2 break points, to hold for 3-0 in the third set, but the 23-year-old Ukrainian found her power game, and several key volleys, to overturn that deficit and win 6 of the last 7 games.
Forty-two years after Hana Mandlikova’s 1981 Roland Garros triumph, her daughter battled into her first main draw in Paris, Mandlik, the 10th seed, overcoming No 22 seed Laura Pigossi from Brazil, 6-2 2-6 7-5, in 2 hours and 29 minutes, holding off a determined late come-back attempt by the 2022 Bogota finalist.
Mandlik has qualified for a Grand Slam main draw for the first time, having contested the 2022 US Open as a wild-card, and the 2023 Australian Open as a lucky loser.
No 21 seed Ylena In-Albon also broke new ground by navigating Grand Slam qualifying, after the 24-year-old Swiss had made her major main draw debut as a direct entrant to Wimbledon 2022, and came from 2-4 down in the third set to defeat No 11 seed Nao Hibino from Japan, 1-6 6-2 6-4.
Iryna Shymanovich, ranked 211, had only contested one tour-level main draw before, as a lucky loser at Cleveland 2022, but she held off Japan’s Mai Hontama, 6-2 3-6 7-6, taking 3 hours and 17 minutes in the process.
The 25-year old Belarusian held her first 3 match points at 5-4 in the decider on Hontama’s serve, and showed fortitude to stave off a determined come-back effort by the Japanese.
The No 26 seed, American Kayla Day, returned to a Grand Slam main draw for the first time since the 2017 US Open with a 5-7 6-4 7-6 upset win over 15th-seeded Elina Avanesyan from Russia in 3 hours and 7 minutes.
The American lost the first set from 4-2 up, won the second from 0-2 down and took the decider from both 3-5 down, and then trailing 1-4 in the super-tiebreak.
Day, 23, reached the 3rd-round of Indian Wells in 2017 and took Garbiñe Muguruza to 3 sets there as a 17-year-old, but, by 2021, her ranking had fallen outside the Top 500.
After winning the Bonita Springs ITF W100 this month, though, she is back up to No 138, just 16 places beneath her career high of 122.
This week marks her first entry into a Grand Slam main draw without a wild-card.