LONDON (Reuters): Schoolgirl and tennis prodigy Mirra Andreeva is modelling herself on Rafa Nadal for mental toughness and resilience.
The 16-year-old Russian, who beat compatriot and 22nd seed Anastasia Potapova to reach the Wimbledon fourth round on Sunday, said she had been working on the psychological side of her game and the 22-time Grand Slam winner was an example to follow.
“After Nadal, he won the French Open in 2022. I was really impressed because after an injury, he came back, he won the Australian Open, he won the French Open,” she said.
“After that, I can say that now mental-wise I just try sometimes to copy him.”
Andreeva handled her press conference just as she handled former junior champion Potapova in her 6-2 7-5 victory – with confidence and an apparent maturity beyond her years.
The teenager, who is now based in Cannes in the south of France with her older sister Erika, also a tennis professional, sidestepped questions about support from Russia that might verge on the political or controversial.
She diverted the answer into talking of support she received from her family and local people in her hometown of Krasnoyarsk who were posting stories about her success on social media.
Andreeva reached the third round at the French Open last month in her first main draw appearance at a Grand Slam before losing in three sets to former teenage prodigy Coco Gauff. After that she said she had a long talk with herself, reflecting on her approach to the game.
“Just in my head I realised some things. I took some decisions that I think are now important for me. I think I did a good job because now everything is working so far,” she said.
Andreeva, who meets American 25th seed Madison Keys in the next round, said she separates her work on court from life away from it.
“Actually I think I’m just a normal teenager, like normal girl. I do, I think, everything that the girls my age do … I have to do my school. I have no choice. I have to suffer for two more years…” she said.
“On the court I just try to think only about tennis, about the game, about the next point. But outside the court I’m different.”