Linda Fruhvirtova in no rush to become tennis' next teenage star

Linda Fruhvirtova in no rush to become tennis’ next teenage star

We live in an instant age, where we get and expect things at the click of our fingers. We want youngsters to become champions instantly and when they do, we are ready to bring them down just as quickly.

But there’s a famous quote that goes, “Slowly is the fastest way to get to where you want to be”. And 17-year-old Linda Fruhvirtova seems very well aware of that as she takes a long-term view when it comes to her tennis career.

Ever since she won Les Petits As in 2020, the elder of the two Fruhvirtova sisters – yes there is a younger one, Brenda, and yes, she’s a pretty darn good player herself – has had the label of a potential Grand Slam winner and top player thrust on her.

“Since I was really young, we always had a lot of attention, even if it was the national U-10 tournament,” Fruhvirtova said. “I’m kind of used to people watching how I am going to do.

“However, in tennis, as soon as you lose two matches, people say, ‘Oh, she’s going down’ and then you win two matches and they go ‘She’s a star.’ You can’t really focus on what other people are saying.

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“Of course, you want to win the Grand Slams as soon as possible but I don’t care whether I win one when I’m in 19 or 20.”

This week, the Fruhvirtova sisters took another step towards their dream of competing side-by-side on the global stage. On Saturday, Linda defeated 2020 French Open semifinalist Nadia Podoroska 5-7, 6-2, 6-4 in Chennai to reach her first Hologic WTA Tour final.

Fruhvirtova fought back from 4-2 down in the final set to capture the win, and she is now projected to make her Top 100 debut in the WTA singles rankings on Monday.

At 17 years, 140 days old, Fruhvirtova is the youngest finalist at a Tour-level event since Coco Gauff won the title at 2021 Parma at 17 years, 70 days old. Fruhvirtova is also the youngest Czech finalist since Nicole Vaidisova won the title at 2006 Strasbourg at 17 years, 34 days old.

Fruhvirtova will face Poland’s Magda Linette in Sunday’s final. Linette advanced after her opponent Katie Swan retired while trailing 3-0.

Halfway across the world, Brenda won her 24th match in a row on the ITF Circuit to make a final in Santa Margherita di Pula, Italy. Her recent run puts her on course to make the cut for the Australian Open qualifying draw.

Linda, who described her fighting spirit and her giving-it-her-all attitude as her biggest strength, does a pretty good job of tuning out the noise. She insists she hasn’t set any specific ranking goals for the year ahead. She would rather focus on continuous improvement.

“I don’t think I’m in the position yet to think that I have to be Top 50 or Top 60 by end of the season or by the end of the summer,” Fruhvirtova said. “I would really like to be in the position where I can play the main draws of the big tournaments and the Grand Slams.”

A self-confessed Serena Williams and Roger Federer fan, Fruhvirtova has been fortunate enough to meet both the icons and says she has nothing but respect for the two. And even as she is sad to see both hang up their racquets over these past few weeks, she says it is a sign of a changing of the guard.

“This day had to come although we wish it didn’t,” she said. “It’s like the end of an era. And now the generations are changing. New players are coming, like Alcaraz. I think now is the time of a generation change.”

With younger sister Brenda already ranked inside the Top 200 before her 16th birthday, the Fruhvirtovas are among the leading candidates to fill in some of the void left by the departure of the GOATs. Linda is in no rush.

“We can see that it (winning a Grand Slam as a teenager) is possible but I don’t think it is possible to dominate and win many Slams at age of 15 or 16 like it was in the past,” Fruhvirtova said.” Of course, you want to win the Grand Slams as soon as possible but I don’t care whether I win one when I’m in 19 or 20. I am just going to try my best and we will see.”

Like the Williams sisters, the Fruhvirtova sisters are also super close and Linda can’t wait to travel alongside her fast-rising sister to the same tournaments.

“It looks like we are going to go together to Australia which is really exciting,” she said. “She has been playing unbelievably well. She’s a very tough opponent for any player and I think she will be fine even at the bigger tournaments.”

And although they have dreamed of playing Grand Slam finals between themselves, Linda was a bit stumped when I asked her if she would prefer beating her younger sister in a first Grand Slam final for both or another player.

“It has two sides but I wouldn’t reject it,” Fruhvirtova said, laughing. “If we both get to the final together and it’s our first time, if one would win, I believe the other would have a chance to win another one for sure.

“It would be pretty unbelievable. Especially for our parents, they wouldn’t care who wins.”

While the tennis world can’t wait for its next Sister Act at the top of the game, the Fruhvirtovas are in no hurry. But rest assured that when they do get there, they will be ready.

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