After runs in Charleston and qualifying successfully in Stuttgart, Louisa Chirico’s currently having her big breakout week in Madrid. The 19-year-old New Yorker navigated her way through qualifying and then took out Monica Niculescu, Ana Ivanovic and Daria Gavrilova took make the first semifinals of her career at the Mutua Madrid Open. The World No. 130 sat down with the press after her win on Thursday to talk about her week in the Spanish Capital.
At the end of last month, Louisa Chirico didn’t quite know what the the European clay swing was going to hold for her.
Now, she’s in the semifinals of a Premier Mandatory event, having had a career best week — and is bound to enter the Top 100 on Monday.
“Yeah, I can’t really describe how I feel. Definitely excited,” Chirico said after her quarterfinal victory over Daria Gavrilova. “I think my adrenaline is still going a little bit. Yeah, I’m very happy to get the win today. It was a tough match. I’m looking forward to my next match as well. Hopefully, I can keep going.
“I haven’t actually looked at any of the rankings or the points yet, so I usually don’t do that in the tournament until afterwards. I am just focusing on what I have to do for my next match really. All that stuff will be — afterwards, I’ll enjoy that.”
In Stuttgart, Chirico — who’ll turn 20 later this month — said that her plans for Madrid and Rome were still up in the air, and in fact, they remained that way until she landed in the Spanish capital this time last week.
“I actually wasn’t in the draw!” Chirico smiled.”I don’t know — yeah, I wasn’t in qualies when I landed in Madrid. We landed at 10 minutes until the 4:00, which is when the cut closes. We were like, ‘Can you call the supervisor? Am I in?’ [I was] lucky enough to make it in and then qualify and get to where I am now. It’s been a really exciting ride so far, but I’m not finished.”
During her run at the Mutua Madrid Open, Chirico benefitted from the withdrawal of Victoria Azarenka to pave her way into the quarterfinals but once the door was open, the 19-year-old continued to walk right through — taking out Gavrilova in straight sets, and dominating rallies with her heavy topspin forehand. The American has played a lot of tennis in these past few weeks, but maintains she feels great and the high number of matches are exactly what she was hoping to get out of her European clay adventure.
“Yeah, [I] actually got two days off after the withdrawal yesterday,” she said. “Physically, I feel great. I’m ready to go. I’ve played a lot of matches — but that was kind of the goal coming into this trip, was to play as many matches as possible, especially because I missed the first couple tournaments of the year with injuries.”
At the current rate, Chirico is not likely to receive a Roland Garros wildcard, as she was ranked outside the Top 130 before the cutoff date for the main draw entry list. Last year, the teenager from New York earned the USTA’s reciprocal wildcard by playing in several ITF events stateside; this year, the American is tearing up the clay in Europe — while improving her ranking massively, she will probably have to play qualifying regardless.
“I’ve played those wildcard tournaments for the past couple years and this year decided to come here and get some matches on the red clay and play these bigger tournaments” Chirico explained. “So I knew I was going to not make the main draw of the French [Open]. But, you know, at the same time I’m ready to play qualies, and that’s what I’ve prepared for. I’m fine with that. I would much rather be here playing obviously, so I’m happy with the decision.”
For her upcoming semifinal match against Sorana Cirstea or Dominika Cibulkova, the World No. 130 is trying to keep expectations and pressure low, which is perfectly in line with the on-court calm she has displayed so far in her matches here in Madrid.
“I really I don’t have any pressure, especially now going into the semifinals,” she said. “I feel like a lot of people didn’t know who I was before, so kind of like an underdog, I guess. I am trying to just focus on each match individually.”