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Can Erika and Mirra Andreeva Change into Tennis’ Next Great Sister Act?


Long day for the Andreeva family.

First got here an early rise to get Mirra, a 16-year-old Russian, ready for her 11 a.m. French Open debut against Alison Riske-Amritraj of the US. Mirra was as efficient as they arrive, ending her match Tuesday in 56 minutes by improvising an array of easy, smooth winners against an opponent twice her age.

“I just play as I feel inside,” she said.

Then got here an extended wait for Mirra’s older sister, 18-year-old Erika, who was last up on Court No. 14 against Emma Navarro, one other American. She took the court just after 7:30 p.m. in Paris. With the sun dropping toward the banks of the Seine, she gave every ounce of energy she needed to attempt to match her sister’s success before Navarro won in three sets, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4, despite Andreeva showing loads of promise.

One family, greater than a dozen hours on the grounds of Roland Garros, a 16-year-old within the second round, and an 18-year-old who got here oh-so-close. So it goes for tennis’s newest sister act.

If this all sounds a bit familiar, it should. Sister acts usually are not exactly recent in women’s tennis, which was headlined for greater than 20 years by the American duo of Serena and Venus Williams. They won a combined 30 Grand Slam singles titles. Venus Williams, 42, still has not retired, though one other major title seems unlikely.

More recently, Naomi Osaka of Japan and her sister, Mari, had their moments, though Mari never got higher than 280th within the singles rankings before retiring in 2021 at age 24. Leylah Fernandez of Canada, a 2021 U.S. Open finalist, has partnered in doubles together with her younger sister Bianca. This French Open principal draw even had one other sister duo — Linda and Brenda Fruhvirtova of the Czech Republic. Each lost their opening-round matches.

Coaches and oldsters — who are sometimes one and the identical — say the explanations for sisterly success is fairly obvious: never having to look far for a practice partner. Also, the younger sibling grows up with the motivation of attempting to overtake the older one. And yet the accomplishment still feels a bit astounding every time it happens, much more so when the journey starts in Siberia, because it did for the Andreevas.

Mirra said her mother, Raisa, fell in love with the game while watching Marat Safin of Russia within the Australian Open in 2005, when he won the tournament. She decided then that she wanted her children to be tennis players.

As a toddler, Mirra trailed along to her sister’s tennis practices and matches. At 6, she began playing seriously herself. When the ladies showed early promise the family moved from Siberia, which was not exactly teeming with tennis players or tennis friendly weather, to Sochi, Russia, with a light climate along the Black Sea, after which Cannes, France, where they enrolled in a tennis academy.

Mirra said she was about 8 years old when she competed in her first international tennis tournament, an under-12 competition in Germany, where she made the semifinals. At 12, a recruiter for IMG, the sports and entertainment firm, spotted her at a tournament for top juniors.

“She was a small player but she was feisty and fighting and just running for the ball and a fantastic competitor and that was the differentiator,” said Juan Acuna Gerard, an IMG agent. “Our recruiter said, ‘This girl is special.’ She was undersized for her age, but fiercely competitive.”

The corporate now represents Erika, too.

Last month, still not 16, Mirra became certainly one of the youngest players to beat a top-20 opponent, knocking off Beatriz Haddad Maia of Brazil on her strategy to the round of 16 on the Madrid Open.

She said she wasn’t nervous then, or ahead of her match Tuesday. She needed her alarm to wake her up within the morning.

“I used to be excited but in way, you recognize?” Mirra said.

The Andreeva sisters worked under the radar on a day when much of Roland Garros was buzzing about certainly one of the most important upsets in recent memory, as Thiago Seyboth Wild of Brazil, 172nd in men’s singles, beat Daniil Medvedev, the previous world No. 1 who’s the second seed on the French Open, in five sets.

Medvedev, who excels on hard courts, has never been a fan of clay-court tennis or had much success at Roland Garros. But he won the ultimate earlier this month on the Italian Open, the principal clay-court tournament ahead of the French Open. It gave the impression of the victory may need been the start of a good looking friendship between Medvedev, the creative Russian, and the red clay. He declared himself cautiously optimistic about his possibilities.

But Medvedev was never comfortable on a gusty Tuesday afternoon, spraying balls within the wind, double-faulting 15 times and catching an opponent playing the match of his life.

“Each time it finishes I’m comfortable,” Medvedev said of his clay-court season. “I had a mouthful of clay from the third game of the match.”

Mirra Andreeva had no such issues. Her biggest problem of the day was that her sister’s match began too late for her to loaf around to observe it. That will have been for the very best. She said she gets much more nervous watching her sister’s matches than while playing her own.

Tuesday evening would have caused loads of jitters. Erika dropped a messy first set, gritted her strategy to draw even with a clinic in tennis defense, then surged to a 3-0 lead within the deciding set, only to observe Navarro find her groove and win six of the following seven games. Sitting within the front row, quietly urging her daughter on all evening, Raisa finally left her seat as Erika’s lead slipped away.

The loss left Mirra to hold the family torch the remaining of the way in which in Paris. She is going to face Diane Parry of France on Thursday, no easy task nevertheless it beats chemistry, the category that she said befuddles her in her online school.

“Chemistry is so bad,” she said. “I don’t understand anything.”

Tennis, alternatively, comes way more naturally. Her coaches — she and Erika have separate ones — give her a game plan before each match. She listens, takes it in, then forgets what she was told almost as soon as she walks onto the court, playing by feel as an alternative.

“If I feel that I actually have to do a drop shot, despite the fact that the rating will not be judicious to do a drop shot, I’ll do it anyhow,” she said. “I don’t know easy methods to explain.”

For the moment, she doesn’t need to.

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