What is so special about Linda Fruhvirtova? The 17-year-old began the 2022 season as a virtually-unknown teenager on the senior tour, but soon became the talk of the town. Fruhvirtova gave us a glimpse of her potential and talent in her run to a maiden WTA title in Chennai, India, just after the US Open.
But a lot of fans are not ready to jump on the bandwagon. They have been on this journey before. Many players in recent years have played spectacularly on the lower rungs of the women’s circuit without possessing the consistency and endurance to emulate such results on the main tour. So what is so special about Linda Fruhvirtova and what is in store for her upcoming 2023 season?
17 & 140 – Linda Fruhvirtova in Chennai (17 years and 140 days) became the youngest female player to win a WTA-level title since Cori Gauff in Parma 2021 (17y 70d) and the youngest to win on hard courts still since Gauff in Linz 2019 (15y 214d). Prospect.@WTA_insider @WTA pic.twitter.com/dpWSIEJWtU
— OptaAce (@OptaAce) September 19, 2022
Fruhvirtova is former Junior #2
A successful junior career is not an indicator of a trophy-laden career on the main tour. The good thing for Fruhvirtova is that she is well aware of the hype and attention from a tender age. When she won the U-10 National tournament, she was already touted as the next big thing. She has been a potential superstar seven years in the making, so we could see the best of the young Czech in the not-too-distant future.
Fruhvirtova peaked at career-high world #2 on the ITF Tour where she plied her trade before she burst onto the scene on the main tour. The Czech star has 98-30 record at that level, amassing five titles. It could have been a lot more had it not been for a truncated pandemic-hit 2020 season.
Chennai title crowning moment for Fruhvirtova
Fruhvirtova arrived in Chennai shortly after losing to Garbine Muguruza in the second round of the US Open. Despite starting the season as a novice, Fruhvirtova did not feel giddy about herself after a fine run at the Miami Open. She played a top-25 player for the first time and upset Elise Mertens. Victory over former #1 Victoria Azarenka followed, before bowing out in the fourth round to Paula Badosa.
The crowning moment did not take long. Fruhvirtova defeated 2020 Roland Garros semifinalist Nadia Podoroska and former world #33 Magda Linette in back-to-back three-setters to cap off a perfect week in Chennai. Victory over Linette in the final made her the youngest WTA titlist in 2022.
Fruhvirtova made her Top-100 debut
Following her sensational title win in Chennai, Fruhvirtova climbed 56 spots in the rankings and broke the world’s top 100 for the first time. At 17, she is the youngest player in the centurion club. She is now guaranteed to earn a main draw spot at the Australian Open next year in what will be just her second appearance at Grand Slam level.
What next for Fruhvirtova?
2023 is going to be interesting. For so many years, we have seen veterans dominating the women’s tour, something akin to the hegemony of the Big 3 in men’s tennis. The likes of Serena Williams, Angelique Kerber, Victoria Azarenka, and Simona Halep have accounted for multiple Slams and a stranglehold of the #1 ranking in the last decade. But Ashleigh Barty came onto the scene. Her textbook style of tennis won a lot of admirers and trophies in the past two years before she shockingly retired shortly after winning the 2022 Australian Open. That opened the door for 21-year-old Iga Swiatek who seized the mantle and hasn’t looked remotely close to relinquishing her #1 ranking.
For Linda Fruhvirtova, 2022 was the kind of tonic she needed to step up onto the big stage. She is armored with an all-court game that makes her tough to outlast in baseline rallies. She can mix it up with some deft touches and decent net play. Her tactical acumen defies her age at times. What is even more impressive, her injury record is impeccable. Fruhvirtova has not retired from a single match since she started playing tennis at a pro level in 2017.
Could we see another full-circle moment for the teenager at next year’s Australian Open? Time will tell, but the signs are positive and promising.