Aryna Sabalenka ends Mirra Andreeva’s breakthrough run at Madrid Open

After a week of picking apart top-level players on one of the biggest stages possible, the 16-year-old Mirra Andreeva’s breakout run at the Madrid Open came to an end on Monday as she was outclassed by Aryna Sabalenka, the second seed, 6-3, 6-1 in the fourth round.

Andreeva, a runner-up in the Australian Open girls’ event, arrived in the fourth round on a 16-match winning run. In addition to winning two consecutive ITF titles in April, Andreeva picked off two top-20 opponents in Madrid – Beatriz Haddad Maia and Magda Linette. On Saturday, she turned 16.

During her Court Manolo Santana debut, the Russian showed glimpses of quality in her variety, athleticism, sweet backhand and potent first serve, but she was overwhelmed by a supreme player at the height of her powers.

Fresh off a finals run in Stuttgart, Sabalenka is an even more dangerous figure in Madrid, where the balls fly in high altitude and produce quick conditions for the biggest ballstrikers.

“Everyone’s playing well and it’s not actually easy to get through the first rounds of every tournament. I think it’s because I am able to focus on myself and no matter what happens on the court, when I lose my serve or I’m down in the set, I’ll keep fighting, keep trying and I’ll keep playing my tennis,” Sabalenka said of her continued consistency.

For Andreeva, her first match against a top-10 player should provide a helpful understanding of the level required of a top player. While her self-confidence has been impressive – she knows what she is capable of and so she is not surprised by her results – her glee at sharing a locker room with the best players has equally endeared her to fans.

“When you sit here and you take a lunch with all these stars, you see that Andy Murray’s gorgeous,” she said in an interview with Tennis Channel. “You see his face and he’s so beautiful in life. I’m sorry, he is so amazing.”

On Twitter, Murray responded quickly: “Imagine how good she’s going to be when she gets her eyes fixed.”

Meanwhile, Mayar Sherif became the first Egyptian woman to reach the quarter-final of a WTA 1000 event by beating Elise Mertens, the 24th seed, 6-4, 0-6, 6-4. She will next face Sabalenka in the quarter-finals. In the men’s draw, Daniil Medvedev edged out Alexander Shevchenko 4-6, 6-1, 7-5 to reach the fourth round.

The Guardian