Sweet 16: Andreeva celebrates with Madrid win

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MADRID — Russian teenager Mirra Andreeva found the perfect way to celebrate her 16th birthday by continuing her breakout showing at the Madrid Open with a two-set win over Magda Linette on Saturday.

Andreeva thrust her arms high after winning a long exchange that ended with her breaking Linette’s serve for a fourth time to secure the decisive point of her 6-3, 6-3 victory.

Linette, the Australian Open semifinalist, became the latest player to be upset by the upstart Andreeva.

Earlier this week, the still-15-year-old Andreeva stunned 2021 U.S. Open finalist Leylah Fernandez to become the third youngest player to win a main-draw match at a WTA 1000 tournament. She followed that up by beating 14th-ranked Beatriz Haddad Maia.

Her next challenge? Nothing less than world No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka in the round of 16.

“I didn’t expect to be here and playing Sabalenka in the round of 16,” Andreeva said. “I’m not really surprised with my level, because I know the way I can play on the court. But of course I didn’t expect to be here and go this far.”

In the men’s draw, second-seeded Daniil Medvedev advanced to the third round after beating qualifier Andrea Vavassori 6-4, 6-3 in the Russian’s tournament opener.

The third-ranked Medvedev leads the men’s circuit with four titles this season, all on hard courts. He is 32-4 on the year.

Medvedev is considered the top challenger to defending champion Carlos Alcaraz, who fought back to beat Emil Ruusuvuori in three sets in his opener on Friday.

Medvedev, however, said he was keeping his expectations in check given the surface was not his best.

“I will try my best as always,” Medvedev said. “Today, I felt very good on the court, and on the rallies I was in control and that is very important on clay.”

The 164th-ranked Vavassori upset two-time Madrid winner Andy Murray in the previous round.

The Italian played well early on and forced Medvedev to save three break points. But the former U.S. Open winner took control by breaking Vavassori on his last service game of the first set.

Medvedev will next face qualifier Alexander Shevchenko, who beat Jiri Lehecka 6-1, 6-1.

The match was briefly paused for a rain shower, which was well received in Madrid which, like the rest of Spain, is enduring a prolonged drought.

Dusan Lajovic needed six match points to finish off ninth-ranked Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-2 3-6 7-6 (5) and improve his career record against the Canadian to 3-0.

It was his third win in a row over top-10 opponents after he beat top-ranked Novak Djokovic and No. 6 Andrey Rublev on his way to winning the Banja Luka title last week.

Auger-Aliassime, who hit 12 aces and 11 double faults, saved two match points in his final service game in the third set, and another three match points in the tiebreaker before Lajovic struck a decisive forehand winner.

“It was super tight at the end,” Lajovic said. “To win 7-6 in the third is really good for my confidence.”

Lajovic will next take on Jan-Lennard Struff after the German rallied to beat American Ben Shelton 4-6, 7-6 (4), 7-5.

Taylor Fritz and Frances Tiafoe, seeded eighth and ninth, respectively, also advanced along with Alex de Minaur.

Sabalenka defeated Camila Osorio 6-4, 7-5 as the Australian Open champion seeks to reclaim the Madrid title she won in 2021.

Home favorite Paula Badosa gave the locals what they wanted by knocking out sixth-seeded Coco Gauff 6-3, 6-0.

Jelena Ostapenko was thrashed by Liudmila Samsonova, who soared to a 6-2, 6-0 win over the former French Open winner.

Irina-Camilia Begu and Elise Mertens were also winners.

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