Mirra Andreeva finds a way past Aryna Sabalenka in French Open quarterfinals

Andreeva just announced herself to the world with a victory over Sabalenka at the French Open.
Mirra Andreeva at the French Open
Mirra Andreeva at the French Open / Clive Brunskill/GettyImages

For Mirra Andreeva to have any chance of defeating Aryna Sabalenka in the quarterfinals of the 2024 French Open, the 17-year-old Andreeva seemingly had to develop some confidence against an opponent she has been smashed by twice in her short career. In both matches Sabalenka and Andreeva have played, Andreeva had won a total of nine games, but four of those came in one set. The Russian needed a fast start on Wednesday.

She got a little help from Sabalenka at the beginning of the match. The Belarusian double faulted several times and kept Andreeva in games she had no business being in. Andreeva even took an unexpected lead midway through the first set because Sabalenka was not playing well, Andreeva was placing shots consistently well, and Sabalenka was struggling with what appeared to be a stomach issue.

After being treated by a physio, Sabalenka's play picked up. Andreeva was still landing shots from time to time, but Sabalenka's one great advantage against Andreeva - Sabalenka's immense power, especially on forehands - was enough for the Belarusian to break Andreeva and eventually win the first set in a tie-break. Andreeva was not playing poorly, and she is tennis-wise beyond her years, but she does not have the physical strength that Sabalenka does. At least, not yet.

17-year-old Mirra Andreeva pushes by Aryna Sabalenka at the French Open

Still, Sabalenka was clearly not feeling perfect and struggled physically as well as emotionally. She probably expected an easier match, based on her two previous matches with the Russian. That Andreeva was still in the match might not have helped her in the quarterfinals of the 2024 French Open, but she should have gained the belief that one day she could defeat a player such as Sabalenka.

In the second set, Andreeva got another break of Sabalenka. This was partly due to Sabalenka's forehand dropping from a top-spin speed of 75 MPH to 59 MPH. Some of this was due to the Belarusian using more drop shots, but mostly, it was due to her feeling ill. Sabalenka, though, was able to break back and get the set to 4-all

Then something slightly odd occurred for Andreeva. Her mother, who had been seated courtside, left in order to not distract Andreeva from playing the points freely. Whether that was the difference in Andreeva or not, she found a way to win the last two games of the second set in order to even the match. It was the first set Sabalenka had lost in a Grand Slam event in 2024.

After winning a set off of Sabalenka for the first time in three matches, the 17-year-old had to begin to feel as if she had a real chance to win the match itself. Sabalenka has the experience of winning high-stress matches deep at major events, though. She knows when to pressure and when to relax. That is the kind of experience Andreeva has not had time to gain but was learning against Sabalenka.

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Tied at 2-all in the third set, Sabalenka began to hit with more pace against Andreeva's serve at love. The match seemed to turn, but in the next game, Andreeva broke right back to get back on serve. Each player held until Sabalenka needed to hold at 4-5. Andreeva had a break and match point but failed to convert the first time. On her second chance, however, she hit one of the best lobs anyone might ever see to take the match 6-7(5) 6-4 6-4.

Andreeva is now through to her first semifinal match in a Grand Slam. She will play Jasmine Paolini in one semi while Iga Swiatek and Coco Gauff play in the other.

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