MADRID -- Mirra Andreeva returned to the site of her big breakout to stage another brilliant comeback. On Wednesday night, Andreeva dropped the first set before rallying from a break down in the third set to defeat Taylor Townsend 4-6, 6-1, 7-5 in the first round of the Mutua Madrid Open. 

"I feel like I'm a bit more mature, even if it's been just one year," Andreeva told WTA Insider after the win. "In five days I'm going to be 17. 

"I'm a little bit nervous about that. I don't want to get old."

Twelve months ago, Andreeva was a promising 15-year-old junior talent when she received a main-draw wild card into the WTA 1000 in Madrid. Close watchers of the sport remembered her Australian Open final from a few months earlier, where she fell short in a three-hour loss against Alina Korneeva. She responded by going on a tear on the ITF Tour, winning 13 consecutive matches. 

Andreeva made good on her wild card. Then ranked No.194, she upset a trio of talented players in Leylah Fernandez, Magda Linette and Beatriz Haddad Maia to make the Round of 16 in her tour debut. 

Since then, Andreeva has spent the next year proving she isn't a fleeting star. She's the youngest player in the Top 150, let alone the Top 50.

Andreeva still goes back to that Madrid run though. She admits she queued up a few of her match highlights recently. What was she looking for?

"I feel like Madrid is my place of power," Andreeva said. "I watched some highlights of my matches last year and I tried to see and understand what I did good, why I had this small success. 

"I didn't see anything, honestly, nothing special. Last year, I came here hoping that I will win some matches with some kind of miracle. I was hoping that maybe my opponents will make the match turn my way. 

"But now I know to win the match I have to do everything by myself, and this match today also proved it."

Mirra Andreeva named 2023 Newcomer of the Year

The highlights of her last year on tour? Playing a limited schedule because of the tour's age eligibility rules, Andreeva proceeded to make the third round of the French Open and the Round of 16 at Wimbledon as a qualifier. At the start of this year, she added another fourth-round run at the Australian Open, memorably saving match points against Diane Parry in the third round. 

Andreeva rose more than 150 spots in the rankings and was named the 2023 WTA Newcomer of the Year. This year, she is ranked No.43 in Madrid, where she is playing her second tournament with new coach Conchita Martinez.

"We started working recently, not a lot time ago, but for this short time I already feel like we've been together for a very long time," Andreeva said.
"So far so good. I really like the atmosphere that we have together. I like that we can separate on court and off the court. We both know how to do that because seh has a lot of experience. I also share with her my feelings, my emotions, and she's trying to do everything that is the best for me. I really enjoy working with her."

"But if I lose my next match, we don't work together anymore. I'm joking."

- Mirra Andreeva on new coach Conchita Martinez

Andreeva's new partnership with the 1994 Wimbledon champion came on the tail end of an extended break from competition. She suffered a wrist injury in Indian Wells  that put her on the sidelines, a circumstance she believes was a blessing.

"This time that I took not playing tournaments, we tried to improve my physical part with my coaches and my technical part," Andreeva said. "This time, I tried to think what I can improve on my mental side because I feel like if I improve that it will be tough to beat me."

Facing down Townsend in her Madrid opener, Andreeva's mental resilience proved the difference. Townsend led 4-1 in the final set, and the old Andreeva may have let her frustrations boil over into self-destruction. Instead, she methodically worked her way back by not thinking past the point in front of her.

"Today was also a hard moment for me, but I just said it's not over until the umpire says, 'Game, set, match'" Andreeva said. "So I just said I will play point-by-point, and as many points I win, it will be better. So I just tried to win as many points as I could."


What does Andreeva hope we'll be talking about in Madrid next year? After citing some concrete goals she wants to achieve this year, she stopped herself. She's already proven the sky's the limit. There's no reason to box herself in.

"I hope that maybe I can be in the Top 10," Andreeva said. "I will hope so. I will do everything possible for that. Also to win as many more matches as I can because that will give me more experience. I will learn from every match, doesn't matter win or lose."