June 30 was a remarkable day for the youngest Russian prospects at Roehampton as four of the six teenagers who started the final round of Qualifying advanced to the main draw.
The youngest woman in the draw, 16-year-old Anastasia Potapova, debuted in a Grand Slam tournament defeating Elizaveta Kulichkova 6-3, 7-5.
“It was a crazy match, similar to last year, but without Hawkeye! Sometimes when you’re ahead, you can lose something, and so you have to find the way to find your focus and just win it. In the second set, I was up 5-2, and 40-0 on my serve. I just started to think about how, ‘Oh my god, I can reach my first main draw ever, and at Wimbledon!’ That’s why I started to get a little nervous and lose focus on the game. Once it got to 5-5, I told myself that I had to find my game and my focus. So, I did!”
From girls’ singles champion last year to Wimbledon qualifier, young talented Potapova is rapidly gaining popularity on grass.
Besides her sunny personality and hilarious facial expressions, Potapova is famous for an on-court intensity and never-say-die attitude. This all has proved to work for the rising tennis star from Moscow: her WTA Tour qualifying debut was a battling 6-4, 0-6, 7-6(2) win over Maria Sakkari in Miami.
Along with her first ITF $25,000 title in Brazil in March, it has allowed Potapova to rocket up the rankings. Having begun the year unranked, she’s now at No.295, and ready to go even higher:
“I have the warmest of memories from last year. I’m feeling great to be back here as a pro, because I won the title last year as a junior. That gives me a lot of confidence, and it’s just amazing to be here. Playing the final last year, it gave me the strongest feelings that I can remember on a tennis court.”
Anastasia describes the historic tournament’s atmosphere:
“Wimbledon is a very special place. First of all, there’s the grass. Second of all, I like how every player has to wear white. All of the traditions are very special. I’m so excited. My family is so happy for me, and my team, as well. But we don’t want to get stuck on it too much; we still want to be able to look forward and keep moving, step by step.”
However, Potapova had a tough first-round encounter against the experienced German Tatjana Maria who just won $100,000 tournament in Southsea:
“I don’t know a lot about her. I’ve seen some of her matches, how she plays, and her style on the court. I don’t think it will be easy, but I just want to show my best tennis here and enjoy every moment.”
The results of the Tuesday match were the following:
Tatjana Maria (Ger) bts Anastasia Potapova (Rus) 6-3, 2-2 (Potapova retired).
Let’s wish luck to the next Maria Sharapova!
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.