Fruhvirtova: ‘Being ranked around 50 is not a big deal, I want to go higher’

Linda Fruhvirtova looks set to be the youngest regular on the WTA Tour. We talked to her at the BNP Paribas Open

Linda Fruhvirtova INDIAN WELLS, CA – MARCH 10: Linda Fruhvirtova (CZE) reacts to a point during the BNP Paribas Open on March 10, 2023 at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, CA. (AI/Reuters/Panoramic)

Now that Coco Gauff is 18, and very soon to be 19, it appears to be Linda Fruhvirtova’s turn to be the youngest player featured at many WTA events. Take, for instance, this year’s Australian Open, where the 17-year-old Czech was the youngest person to reach the round of 16 since Gauff in 2020.

This year she was the youngest player in the main draw at the BNP Paribas Open, and reached the second round before falling to No 27 seed Anhelina Kalinina in three tight sets.

We caught up with Fruhvirtova, who will turn 18 on May 1, after her first-round win over Egypt’s Mayar Sherif.

That was quite a win over Mayar Sherif, a real battle to win 0-6, 6-2, 6-3. You didn’t win any games in the opening set, yet you still found a way to win…

It definitely feels great, especially after the first set, and I was really happy that I was able to come back and turn things around, and just fight through it and yes, I’m happy to get the first win here. I think you just have to keep believing that you can come back and just keep believing and fighting for every point. Every game is worth fighting for because it can turn around pretty quickly.

I just wanted to put more pressure in the second set, and just keep fighting and believing.

It’s been a fantastic start to the season for you. Second week in Melbourne and a career-high ranking. Top 50 is next. How does it make you feel about your future?

To be honest I didn’t think of the Australian Open as a big deal, or to be ranked around 50 is a big deal because it’s not where I want to go. I want to go further. Of course it was a great success but I want to keep improving. This is not where I want to stop, I want to keep going higher, so that’s my mindset that there’s still a long way to go.

Do you feel that the losses are valuable tools for your development, even though they can be painful at times?

Definitely I am still pretty new to the tour, this will be my first full year on the women’s tour, and yes, I think you really have to adapt to the women’s game because it’s different than the juniors and I think definitely some matches that I lost really helped me to win some more important ones. It’s just getting those experiences and playing these big matches on big stages, against great players, it’s definitely something and still is something that I need.

Can you elaborate a bit about the lessons you can learn, take for instance your match against two-time Slam champion Muguruza at the US Open last year?

It was still a really good success for me at the US Open but I definitely felt like I could do more. I learned my lessons from that match and I also saw what I had to improve. How was her level, the speed of her shots, the power. It was definitely good for me to see and to feel, because one thing is watching on TV and the other thing is playing the opponent in these stadiums.

When it is time to look back on your matches, who helps you with the analysis? Is it your father, coach Patrick, or a collaborative effort between your whole team?

I think there is always more than one person behind success. Patrick has been helping me since I was pretty much very young and my parents are always around – they are definitely spending the most time with me and they should probably get the most credit. It takes a team effort and also I have to be open and able to learn.

Your sister Brenda is not with you this week, but she was with you at the Australian Open and will certainly be with you in the future. Are you prepared to face a future that will feature many matches against someone you care about so much?

It’s happened before in juniors. In juniors it happened three weeks in a row in the final, so I mean we couldn’t complain, that was pretty good. Of course when you are standing across from each other it’s not the most comfortable thing in the world. First round is much less comfortable than if you were to play a final against each other. She has these age eligibility rules that didn’t let her play much [since] Australia, but I’m sure she’ll be fine and we’ll see her a lot.

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