We live in an age of the moment, where we get and expect things at the push of a button. We want youngsters to become champions right away, and when they do, we’re ready to bring them down just as quickly.
But there’s a famous quote that goes: “Slow is the quickest way to get where you want to be”. And 17-year-old Linda Fruhvirtova seems to be well aware of this as she takes a long-term view of her tennis career.
Ever since she won Les Petits As in 2020, the older of the two Fruhvirtova sisters — yes, there’s a younger one, Brenda, and yes, she’s one hell of a player herself — has carried the label of a potential Grand Slam winner and -Top players came across them.
“Since I was very young we always had a lot of attention, even if it was the national U-10 tournament,” said Fruhvirtova. “I’m used to people watching how I’m going to do.
“However, in tennis, as soon as you lose two games, people say, ‘Oh, she’s going down,’ and then you win two games and they say, ‘She’s a star.’ You can’t really focus on what other people are saying, I don’t focus on that.”
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 a 4-2 deficit in the final set to claim the win and she is expected to make her top-100 debut in the WTA singles rankings on Monday.
At 17 years and 140 days, Fruhvirtova is the youngest finalist at a tour-level event since Coco Gauff won the title in Parma in 2021 at the age of 17 years and 70 days. Fruhvirtova is also the youngest Czech finalist since Nicole Vaidisova won the title in Strasbourg in 2006 aged 17 years and 34 days.
Fruhvirtova meets Poland’s Magda Linette in Sunday’s final. Linette advanced after her opponent Katie Swan went down 3-0.
On the other side of the world, Brenda won her 24th straight match on the ITF Circuit and reached the final in Santa Margherita di Pula, Italy. Her latest run puts her on course to qualify for the Australian Open qualifier draw.
Linda, who cited her fighting spirit and go-for-all attitude as her greatest strength, manages to block out the noise quite well. She insists she hasn’t set any specific ranking goals for the coming year. She prefers to focus on continuous improvement.
“I don’t think I’m in a position to believe anymore that I have to be in the top 50 or top 60 by the 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 fan of Serena Williams and Roger Federer, Fruhvirtova was lucky enough to meet both icons and says she has nothing but respect for the pair. And while she’s sad that both have quit their clubs in recent weeks, she says it’s a sign of a changing of the guard.
“That day had to come, although we wished 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 for a generational change.”
With younger sister Brenda already ranked in the top 200 before she turned 16, the Fruhvirtovas are among the leading candidates to fill some of the void left by the GOATs’ departure. Linda is in no hurry.
“We can see that it’s possible (to win a Grand Slam as a teenager) but I don’t think it’s possible at the age of 15 or 16 to dominate and win a lot of Slams like it’s been in the past ‘ said Fruhvirtova. Of course you want to win the Grand Slams as soon as possible, but I don’t care if I win one when I’m 19 or 20. I’ll just do my best and we’ll see.”
Like the Williams sisters, the Fruhvirtova sisters are very close and Linda can’t wait to travel to the same tournaments with her fast-rising sister.
“It looks like we’re going to Australia together, which is really exciting,” she said. “She played incredibly well. She’s a very tough opponent for any player and I think she’ll do well in the bigger tournaments too.”
And although they have dreamed of playing Grand Slam finals against each other, Linda was a bit perplexed when I asked her if she would prefer her younger sister to play in a first Grand Slam final for both or another player hit.
“It has two sides, but I wouldn’t turn it down,” Fruhvirtova said, laughing. “If we both get to the final together and it’s our first time and one would win, surely the other would have a chance to win another one.
“It would be pretty unbelievable. Especially our parents wouldn’t care who wins.”
While the tennis world can’t wait for their next sister act at the top of the game, the Fruhvirtovas are in no rush. But rest assured they will be ready when they get there.