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Jil Teichmann ousts Anhelina Kalinina in Madrid, but not before the Ukrainian tops three Grand Slam champions
In a high-stakes quarterfinal, the Swiss' unexpected shotmaking saw her through.
Published May 04, 2022
Highlights: Anhelina Kalinina tops Emma Raducanu in Madrid
Asked once for a one-word self-description, Jil Teichmann chose “unexpected.” In closing out a 6-3, 6-4 win over Ukrainian Anhelina Kalinina on Wednesday in the quarterfinals of the Mutua Madrid Open, the 24-year-old from Switzerland proved true to her word.
Serving for the match at 5-4, 40-30, Teichmann had just lost two consecutive match points. On the previous one, a Kalinina forehand had barely landed inside the baseline, the kind of bold drive that can signal a relaxed opponent and incipient danger.
Now came the lefthanded Teichmann’s third try. Try and jam the Kalinina forehand, a shot that had recently gained a jolt of confidence? Go instead to the stronger backhand?
Per the lefty credo, Teichmann went with her pet serve, the wide slice. But then came the unexpected: Teichmann opted to serve and volley. Anticipating Kalinina’s crosscourt drive, Teichmann deftly feathered a forehand stop volley that ended the match, a blend of informed selection and deft execution certain to draw hearty applause from such supreme lefty serve-volleyers as Martina Navratilova and John McEnroe.
“I really like the conditions here in Madrid,” said Teichmann. “It's perfect. It's a mix between the Spanish clay, which I practice a lot, and as well as a little bit altitude like I'm used to from Switzerland, so it's actually great for me here. I like a lot the ‘ambiente,’ like you say in Spanish, what the people bring. I take all the energy they give me.”
Kalinina’s Madrid run had been impressive. Her three wins had all come versus Grand Slam champions: Sloane Stephens, Garbine Muguruza, Emma Raducanu. Versus Teichmann, though, signs of fatigue were clear from the start. In the first set, serving at 2-3, 15-40, Kalinina fought off the first break point with a terrific crosscourt backhand. But on the next point, Teichmann scurried around the court well enough to elicit a forehand struck long. By the end of the first set, Kalinina had made 12 unforced errors, Teichmann a stingy three.
While Kalinina’s success in rallies was largely based on power and accuracy, Teichmann applied pressure in many ways, sprinkling in looped forehands, sliced backhands and slashing drives, an eclectic mix of lefty guile mildly reminiscent of Angelique Kerber. For all Teichmann’s success, though, there was never a sense she was in a position to run away with this match. In the second set, serving at 2-1, Teichmann was broken. This happened again at 3-2.
The tightness of this match might well have been because the stakes were similar for both. Teichmann is ranked 35th; Kalinina 37th. For each, the chance to reach the semis at a WTA 1000 event posed many opportunities, most notably the possibility of earning a precious seeding later this month at Roland Garros.
Events tipped in the seventh game of the second set. Kalinina served at 3-all, 40-30. Teichmann laced an untouchable forehand return down the line, punctuating her ninth forehand winner of the match with a cry of “Allez!” At deuce, Kalinina drove a forehand long. On the next point, Teichmann carved a down-the-line backhand, a wicked sliced shot you’ll see more frequently at public parks than professional tournaments. But it worked, Kalinina netting her reply.
Teichmann continued to weave her web. Serving at 4-3, 30-15, Teichmann hit an ace down the T. At 40-30, Kalinina overhit a second serve return.
“Obviously I know the conditions are good for me,” said Teichmann. “Here with the altitude my serve is big. I get a lot of free points, and as well I get the first ball a bit easier than the classic clay.”
Two games later, it was over. Teichmann had hit 17 winners to Kalinina’s eight.
So continued a tremendous week for Teichmann, who’d earlier beaten world No. 18 Elena Rybakina, 2021 US Open finalist Leylah Fernandez and three-time Madrid champion Petra Kvitova.
“Kalinina is a very, very solid player,” said Teichmann. “I had to face a little bit the different kind of style which I was coming from from the other matches, so I had to adapt a little bit my game. But I'm really happy the way I served, especially how I served it out.”
But some parting words for Kalinina, who has had an eventful 12 months. A year ago, she was ranked 161st in the world. That Kalinina’s ascent has also coincided with the horrors in her homeland unquestionably adds a stressful dimension. Imagine, a life split between pursuing a lifelong dream and deep concern for family, friends and fellow citizens. No doubt Kalinina draws extensive support from her husband and coach, Anton Korchevski.
“He’s doing 200 percent job all the time,” Kalinina recently told WTA Insider Courtney Nguyen. “My fitness coach is in Ukraine because of the tough times. He cannot travel. So I’m just with my husband 24/7 and he’s doing everything.”
Kalinina’s tennis journey will remain one of this year’s most intriguing story lines; for now, we’ll return to Teichmann’s journey in Madrid.