“Plays like Sharapova.” Czech talent produced by coach Williams is tearing up WTA tops
Linda Fruchvirtova, 16, is the youngest participant in Miami’s fourth round since 2004, when Maria Sharapova reached that stage. The young Czech stepped up to the 1/8 finals for the first time, where she will play Paula Badoza. A story that deserves an Oscar?
Almost an Oscar-worthy screenplay.
A couple of hours ago, Will Smith won the industry’s top movie award, the Oscar for Best Actor. The American played the father of the Williams sisters, Richard, a gambling, active man who loves his daughters very much. Tell me, what does a talented Czech and the most discussed prize of the world have to do with it?
The story of Linda, who saw Vika Azarenka home the day before in Miami, is a miracle echo of the Oscar nominee. The blond girl is the older and seemingly more progressive tennis player in the Fruehwirth family. Her sister, Brenda, is a year younger, but just as ambitious and talented.
The coincidences don’t end there. Throughout tournament life since childhood, both have been accompanied by their parents: Heineck’s idea-driven and involved dad takes them to practice, throws balls in the backyard, and looks for money to cover every month’s budget. Mom is in charge of keeping them comfortable, homeschooling with them. The girls’ future is purely a family project to which they give their lives. The Oscar-winning film “King Richard” is just that!
They are admired by tennis oldstars: McEnroe, Evert, Muratoglu.
The Fruchwirth sisters were also cared for by former Czech tennis player Pavel Schnoebel. And more recently, the juniors have been taken care of by Patrick Muratoglu. Involvement of the influential and star coach in the girls’ lives attracted the attention of no less popular in tennis agency IMG – these guys discovered to the world Anna Kournikova and Sharapova, who then became icons of Nick Bolletieri Academy. About half of the main title contenders also work with the company, and the wildcards for the tournament receive exclusively clients of the agency – for example, the Russian star Anna Kalinskaya, who also pleased her fans at the start of the thousandth anniversary by outplaying Karolina Plishkova.
“They grabbed on to them and realize that there’s not a lot of talent in world tennis like Linda and Brenda. IMG is doing a great job,” confirms Petra Kvitova’s manager Marina Bala.
Linda’s timely given wild-card in Miami 2022 and allowed the athlete with a “ram” beat Danka Kovinic, in the second round said goodbye to the #20 WTA Belgian Elise Mertens (7:5, 2:6, 6:1), and yesterday made it to 1/8 after beating two-time champion Vika Azarenka. The older one is already in all the media headlines if only because she’s the youngest on the tour since 2009: she defeated Madison Keys back then.
Linda has three ITF tournaments under her belt and is ranked 279th in the world. She has already tasted three 250 tournaments, and in Charleston 2021 – her first adult cup – the 499er knocked out former No. 11 Frenchwoman Alize Corne, but stumbled in the quarterfinals. “I’ve always dreamed of playing at Grand Slam tournaments, in huge stadiums with a great atmosphere,” Fruchvirtova said. And this is the brightest start to her adult career in Czech history. Compared to her compatriots, Karolina Pliskova was 427th in the world at Linda’s age, her twin Kristina was 753rd and Petra Kvitova was 451st.
The unspoken similarities with the Williams sisters can also be seen in the reverence for each other: the two American women always stuck together, even if one of them wasn’t playing in any of the tournaments. “No trophy can compare to what we have with each other,” the Fruhwirts shared. The sisters are idolized by Argentine superstar Gabriela Sabatini, legendary showman John McEnroe and American Chris Evert. The senior has already been invited to spar with Australian favorites Samantha Stosur and Daria Gavrilova at a tournament in Prague.
“She acts fast, wants to score her own points, which I like. She doesn’t wait for her opponent to do anything to her, which is very important for tennis development. Linda knows how to fight against losing matches. She plays like Sharapova,” the experienced Muratoglu assesses her game.
That’s the danger, though, that’s what’s waiting to happen to Linda and Brenda. With the upcoming successes, the pressure on both will increase significantly. Their matches will be monitored, each defeat by a lower ranked opponent will be analyzed and criticized. No one will remember that both competed in the World Junior Championships or broke records as the youngest tournament winners. Expectations will start to play against them.
But I want to believe that this scenario will be filled with new details and details of the young Czechs’ victories. And someday, the whole world will see interesting turns of fate of two original, but very talented sportswomen.