Olivia Gadecki: Making stunning progress
Momentum continues to build for Australia’s Olivia Gadecki, who is proving she is a rising star ready to challenge the world’s best.
Milestones are quickly adding up for Queensland teen Olivia Gadecki. The 19-year-old, who recently won her first professional singles title at a $15K ITF tournament in Turkey, is set to make her Roland Garros qualifying debut tonight.
Australian Tennis Magazine recently profiled Gadecki in the April-May edition, reflecting on her breakout start to the 2021 season …
A first top-100 win is a major milestone in any player’s career – and Australian teen Olivia Gadecki certainly won’t forget hers.
The then 18-year-old from Queensland upset world No.4 Sofia Kenin during the Melbourne Summer Series in February, firing 12 aces and 44 winners to defeat last year’s Australian Open champion.
“All I know is that I’m not ranked, and I just beat the No.4 in the world – which is crazy,” a beaming Gadecki said after her 2-6 7-6(4) 6-4 second-round victory.
The powerful ball-striker displayed nerves of steel against the two-time major finalist, saving 14 of the 17 break points she faced in the two-hour and 28-minute match at Melbourne Park.
“After that first set I was still trying to find my feet, find my way in the match. But then, I don’t know, something kind of clicked at 3-2,” Gadecki explained. “I was like, you know what, I have nothing to lose here, I’m just going to go out here and have a good swing.”
It was only the second time Gadecki, who was a wildcard entry, had faced a top 100-ranked opponent in her young career. Her sensational victory now also counts as her first top-50, top-10 and top-five win.
“As soon as that match was finished, I was so happy that I even started crying. I’ve never felt this way before,” related Gadecki, who became the first unranked teen to defeat a top-10 player since a 15-year old Mirjana Lucic in 1997.
The stunning victory was a highlight in a breakout Australian summer for Gadecki, who amassed an impressive number of milestones.
Gadecki, a former Australian Junior Fed Cup representative, was awarded an Australian Open qualifying wildcard after impressive performances during last year’s UTR Pro Tennis Series. She claimed four UTR Pro Tennis Series titles during 2020 and scored victories against higher-ranked peers including Lizette Cabrera and Maddison Inglis.
Competing in Dubai marked Gadecki’s first professional appearance in an event outside of Australia – and she made the most of the opportunity, advancing to the second round.
“All I could do was go out there, and compete, and try my very best,” Gadecki said of her mindset in her Australian Open qualifying debut, where she defeated world No.251 Lara Salden of Belgium.
Buoyed by this breakthrough, Gadecki enjoyed more success on the doubles court in her return to Australia. She teamed with fellow Aussie Belinda Woolcock to record a first tour-level victory during the Melbourne Summer Series. The wildcard pairing then made the Australian Open second round, marking a first Grand Slam main draw victory for both.
Although Gadecki was not a well-known name, her success did not completely surprise those in Australian tennis circles.
World No.1 Ash Barty was among the many impressed with Gadecki’s form and work ethic during last year’s UTR Pro Tennis Series. It prompted Barty, who was also practising at the Queensland Tennis Centre, to invite Gadecki to be her preseason training partner.
“I wouldn’t have been able to do what I did without all her help, her time and effort,” Gadecki said of the world No.1, who was in the stands supporting during her victory against Kenin. “I’m really, really thankful for all she’s done for me.”
Barty, who shares a birthday with Gadecki, revealed she had “a lot of respect” for her promising peer.
“I’m incredibly proud of Liv. She’s done so much work over the last few months,” Barty said of Gadecki, who is six years her junior. “I invited her to do a preseason with us knowing she’s a brilliant girl first and foremost, and then a hell of a ball striker after that.
“We had a really good two or three months of training together. She worked her backside off. She pushed me. She pushed me a lot, not just on the court but off the court, as well, in the gym, when we are doing our off-court training. I really enjoyed it. I really enjoyed spending time with her.”
Gadecki grew up on the Gold Coast and is now based in Brisbane. She shares a house with fellow Australian players Dane Sweeny and Tristan Schoolkate, who train alongside her at Tennis Australia’s National Academy at the Queensland Tennis Centre.
She is working with esteemed coach Dave Taylor, who steered Sam Stosur to her US Open title and has also previously worked with big-hitting Grand Slam champions Naomi Osaka, Jelena Ostapenko and Ana Ivanovic.
Gadecki has since soared to career-high rankings of No.518 in singles and No.353 in doubles. Her self-belief is also at an all-time high, aided by her Kenin victory.
“This win means that I’m not far, and I can really do this,” she admitted. “I feel like I can really make this dream of mine a reality.”