Alina Korneeva defeated Mirra Andreeva in an all-Russian final in Melbourne
Russia's Alina Korneeva became the latest junior Grand Slam champion from her homeland with a hard-fought victory over compatriot Mirra Andreeva in the girls' singles final of the Australian Open on Saturday.
Appearing at a first ever Grand Slam junior event of her career, Korneeva ensured that she leaves Melbourne with the title in tow after a 6-7 6-4 7-5 win over fellow 15-year-old Andreeva. An epic contest between the two Russian youngsters - who are also doubles partners - spanned three hours and 18 minutes at Rod Laver Arena.
Ninth seed Korneeva got the better of her seventh-seeded rival, becoming the first Russian youngster to win the girls' junior title in Melbourne since Elizaveta Kulichkova in 2014. Other past Russian winners of the title include two-time champion Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who has since gone on to have a successful professional career and reach a Grand Slam final at the French Open in 2021.
"It's my first Grand Slam and I hope not the last one," Korneeva said of her success, as quoted by the WTA website. "I'm so proud of myself, of my mental game."
Korneeva and Andreeva had gone as far as the semifinals in the girls' doubles in Melbourne, and Korneeva described the duo as the closest of friends - as evidenced by her consolation of the tearful Andreeva on court after their singles final.
"On the court, of course I can't give to her the points. We are the opponents on the courts," said Korneeva. "Off the court, we are the best friends. I love her so much. She's my girl, I don't know, my person that I can say everything to her. I hope we will have a good relationship together."
The women's final will be contested later on Saturday at Rod Laver Arena, and sees Russian-born Elena Rybakina - who has represented Kazakhstan since 2018 - aim to win her second Grand Slam title after success at Wimbledon last season. Seeded 22nd, Rybakina takes on debut Grand Slam finalist Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus, who is the fifth seed in Melbourne.