16-year-old Linda Fruhvirtova stuns Mertens for career-best win at Miami

The rising 16-year-old from the Czech Republic was facing a top-50 opponent for the first time.

Linda Fruhvirtova and her father, Miami 2022 Linda Fruhvirtova and her father © Tennis TV / Tennis Majors

In 2021 Linda Fruhvirtova was granted a wild card into the Miami Open qualifying draw, where she promptly lost to Nina Stojanovic in three sets, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2.

“I never played against top-25 player, and, yeah, it’s unbelievable,” The teenager told reporters. “I still can’t believe it. But I’m so happy I got the win here. I worked really hard for this, and I’m enjoying it.”

A year later, ranked 279 and with several WTA victories already under her belt, the 16-year-old took a giant step forward by toppling 20th-seeded Elise Mertens, 7-5, 2-6, 6-1.

Fruhvirtova notched her first career WTA win not long after her qualifying appearance at Miami – she went on to reach the quarterfinals at Charleston after wins over Alizé Cornet and Emma Navarro.

The feeling is amazing, you know. These are the moments we do it for.

— Linda Fruhvirtova

Friday in Miami she battled past the cagey veteran from Belgium with a varied attack. She rallied from 0-40 down at 3-3 in the opener and eventually broke Mertens at love in the final game of the opening set to take a one set to love lead.

After Mertens cruised through the second set, Fruhvirtova took charge in the decider. She saved a break points in each of her first two service games and reeled off the final five games of the contest to lock up her victory in two hours and one minute.

“I was like just ‘Stay focused until the match is over.'” Fruhvirtova said. “You know, it was 3-1, 4-1. She had some chances at the beginning of the third set to break me, but yeah, it’s unbelievable. It’s like, you know, that really happen or am I just dreaming?

“The feeling is amazing, you know. These are the moments we do it for. So, yeah, I’m just really happy.”

Fruhvirtova improves to 5-3 lifetime in tour-level matches. She will face either Victoria Azarenka or Ekaterina Alexandrova in the third round.

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