Michaela Laki is Greece’s rising tennis star, as her recent successful performance in the 2022 Australian Open Juniors has proven.
The 16-year-old tennis wonder made it to the quarterfinals of the tournament but did not manage to reach the semi-finals after her loss 2-0 (6-4, 6-2) to American Liv Hovde early on Thursday.
However, Laki is currently No. 6 on the board and No. 13 in the world rankings and has just participated in her first quarterfinal in a Grand Slam.
Michaela Laki in the Australian Open Juniors
Greece’s rising tennis star made her successful Australian Open debut by beating Switzerland’s Chelsea Fontenel (No. 38) 2-0 (7-6(3), 6-0).
Laki then went to beat Britain’s Ranah Akua Stoiber (No. 41) 2-1 (4-6 6-4 6-4) in the second round of the girls’ singles, advancing to the quarter-finals.
After her second win, the Greek wonder scored a big victory in the tie-break of the third set after a great upset against Czech Dominika Salkova (No. 35) and qualified for her first quarterfinal in a Grand Slam.
In the quarterfinal against American Liv Hovde (No. 20), the Greek tennis player was off to to bad start. She made many mistakes, finishing 1-5 in the first set.
Nevertheless, Laki made an impressive comeback, after reducing it to 5-4, 0-30, reaching two points away from a break that would bring a draw. The 16-year-old American, however, served well and took four points in a row, to finish the first set 6-4.
This gave Hovde momentum to play a perfect second set, in which Laki made many mistakes again, resulting in a 6-0 score against her.
The rising tennis star from Larissa
Born March 24, 2005 in Tyrnavos, Larissa, Laki started playing tennis at five years of age and her clear love for the sport led her to the beginnings of a brilliant career.
Through strenuous training of more than four hours a day, under the guidance of coach Phoebus Michalopoulos, the young girl honed her skills.
She said that she owes a great deal to the invaluable help of her parents and three siblings, without whom she could not have reached the point she is now.
On July 28, 2019 she played in the final of the U14 European Championship in Most, Czech Republic, just the second Greek teenage girl to play a final in the tournament after Lena Daniilidou in 1996.
At 16, after participating in top tournaments, Laki became an ambitious athlete full of excitement for the sport and sheer determination to succeed.
In June of 2021 she played at Wimbledon for the first time, losing to American Elizabeth Coleman 2-0.
In her maiden participation in Rolland Garros she managed to advance to the 16 best of the event in the Juniors category.
The young player achieved a great upset against Sofia Kostoula, who is playing for Belgium, winning 2-1 sets (4-6, 6-2, 7-6).
Laki managed to make a tremendous upset in the tie break of the third set, in a match that lasted 2 hours and 37 minutes.
Inspiration from Tsitsipas and Sakkari
Naturally, for a Greek girl like Michaela, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Maria Sakkari are the tennis players to look up to.
“For any Greek athlete, Stefanos and Maria are a great inspiration,” Laki told itftennis.com.
“They motivate us to play our best and reach our goals. They also make us feel like we can do the same as them. Being at the same tournament as them is very special and it motivates me to play my best and be like them,” she told the tennis news outlet during the Australian Open.
“I was very excited watching Stefanos play after my match and I was shouting, ‘Vamos, Stef’, ‘Vamos, Stef’, and I do the same with Maria also. I am always super-excited whenever I watch them play and I really love the way they play,” she said.
As for international players, Michaela says that she admires Roger Federer and Serena Williams the most.