WIMBLEDON, England -- The setting sun was shining with its greatest intensity of the day when qualifier Mirra Andreeva closed out the first set against China's Wang Xiyu on Court 16. Spectators around the edges strained to catch a glimpse of the 16-year-old -- who is becoming a genuine phenomenon.
Ranked No.102 and making her Wimbledon main-draw debut, Andreeva was a 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 winner over 65th-ranked Wang in a terrific first-round match that consumed 2 hours and 25 minutes. Her reward? A second-round meeting Thursday with No.10 seed Barbora Krejcikova, who was a 6-2, 7-5 winner over British wild card Heather Watson.
It literally came down to the final game, with Wang serving to force a third-set tiebreaker. But she missed her last four first serves, which allowed Andreeva to produce a finishing flex. On match point, Wang double-faulted. In the end, Wang actually won two more points (118-116) than her teenage challenger.
Andreeva’s last tournament under the cloak of anonymity came in late April at an ITF $60,000 event in Bellinzona, Switzerland. She won six matches and embarked on an ambitious Hologic WTA Tour schedule that would announce her to the world.
Andreeva immediately took advantage of a wild card into the main draw of the Madrid Open and defeated 2021 US Open finalist Leylah Fernandez in her WTA debut. She followed that by beating No.14 Beatriz Haddad Maia in the second round and No.19 Magda Linette in the third. The end came, predictably, with a loss to World No.2 Aryna Sabalenka in the fourth round. Her ranking jumped nearly 50 spots, to No.146.
At Roland Garros, Andreeva made her Grand Slam debut by winning three qualifying matches before taking out Alison Riske-Amritraj and Diane Parry. She bowed out in three sets in the third round to 2022 finalist Coco Gauff. That moved her ranking to No.101-- not quite enough to guarantee a spot in Wimbledon’s main draw.
No matter, for Andreeva won three more qualifying matches to land in her second main draw at a major. And now she’s into the second round at Wimbledon with a crack at a major champion.