A couple of weeks after winning her first professional title, the 14-year-old Ksenia Efremova is making her debut at Majors. Ksenia received a wild card for the Australian Open main draw and made a winning start, ousting the 5th seed and last year’s US Open finalist Tereza Valentova 7-6, 6-4 in an hour and 42 minutes.
As often in juniors, both players struggled with double faults and the second-serve efficiency. However, Ksenia emerged at the top after taking six points more than Tereza. The French player seized six out of eight break chances and lost serve five times from ten opportunities offered to her opponent.
Efremova led 5-2 in the opener before starting to struggle, allowing Valentova to erase the deficit and create two set points on the return at 6-5. Ksenia defended them and clinched a tie break for a massive boost of confidence.
The younger player grabbed three breaks in the second set, enough to emerge at the top.
Ksenia Efremova is off to a winning start in Melbourne.
Efremova grabbed an extended rally in the encounter’s first game and earned a break after Valentova’s backhand error.
The French player squandered a 40-15 lead in the second game and got broken after a forced error, bringing the Czech back to 1-1. They served well in games three and four, and Efremova attacked on the return again at 2-2. Tereza missed a forehand and faced three break points, losing serve on the second and falling behind.
Ksenia cemented the break with a service winner in game six and welcomed another forehand mistake from Tereza in game seven for another break and a 5-2 advantage. The 14-year-old served for the set in game eight and got broken at love after a double fault, keeping her rival in contention.
The Czech held at 15 in game nine and created a break chance at 4-5 after the French player’s forehand error. Ksenia missed another forehand, allowing Tereza to lock the result at 5-5.
The more experienced player produced another hold at love in game 11, moving 6-5 up and keeping the pressure on the other side.
Efremova faced two set points and saved them, prolonging the game and held to introduce a tie break. Ksenia moved 4-2 up with a service winner and extended the lead after Tereza’s loose backhand. The 5th seed sprayed a forehand error at 2-6, with the younger player moving in front after 51 minutes.
Efremova held at 30 in the first game of the second set and broke her rival in game two after Valentova’s backhand mistake. The Czech forced the opponent’s error in the third game, pulling the break back and still fighting.
Ksenia clinched the fifth game with a service winner and erased Tereza’s game points in the next one, securing a break following a costly double fault from the 5th seed. Valentova pulled the break back in game seven after a return winner and closed the next one after deuce thanks to an unreturned serve for 4-4 and more drama.
Ksenia defended nicely in the ninth game and held at 30 for a 5-4 advantage, shifting the pressure to the other side. Valentova led 40-15 in the tenth game before spraying two groundstroke errors. The 5th seed played a loose forehand and offered her rival a match point.
Ksenia seized it after Tereza’s forehand mistake, celebrating her first Major victory at 14 and moving into the second round.