Former 18-time Grand Slam champion Martina Navratilova has tipped 18-year-old Russian Diana Shnaider to have a bright future. Shnaider, who will be turning 19 in April, is a top-100 player but she is not a full-time WTA player as she is playing college tennis at North Carolina State.
At the start of the 2023 season, Shnaider made the Australian Open second round as a qualifier. In the Australian Open second round, Shnaider nearly upset Maria Sakkari as the seventh-ranked Greek had to come from a set down to beat the Russian 3-6 7-5 6-3.
"This woman is motivated, remember her name," Navratilova tweeted.
Shnaider: I like to go for my shots
Shnaider, ranked at No 94 in the world, is left-handed and she is not shying away from being aggressive on the court.
As a young girl, Shnaider figured out that she didn't want to be a player who would go out and just push the ball around the court. “I never wanted to be a pusher. I was always like: ‘OK, here’s the shot.
I’m killing it,'" Shnaider told The New York Times. At this year's Australian Open, Shnaider won a total of four matches - the Russian won three qualifying matches before beating Kristina Kucova in the first round for her first Grand Slam main draw win.
In the Australian Open second round, Sakkari got extremely annoyed with Shnaider's celebrations. At one point, Sakkari was heard telling the chair umpire: "If she screams one more time in my face. No, no, no, no, One more time, she's coming towards me.
One more time and I'm going to speak to the referee." Now, Shnaider claims her intention wasn't to provoke Sakkari and admitted it was hard to read some comments online. “I understand with my mind that I’m doing everything right, but of course when people say mean things it goes to my heart and soul.
But I’m trying to just go my own way," Shnaider said. This week, Shnaider played in her first tournament since the Australian Open as she was beaten by Elise Mertens in the Monterrey first round.