Czech teen sounds Paris warning

Former junior champion Noskova building on breakthrough season

Linda Noskova, Roland-Garros 2023, first round© Clément Mahoudeau/FFT
 - Dan Imhoff

From the highs of junior champion to the agony of falling just shy against Emma Raducanu in her Grand Slam debut, Linda Noskova is learning fast at Roland-Garros.

On Tuesday, the 18-year-old Czech notched her first match win at a major when Danka Kovinic retired at 6-3, 2-1.

It quickly erased the heartache of a three-set defeat to Raducanu at the same stage last year and set a blockbuster showdown with fourth seed Elena Rybakina.

After a hefty six months in which she soared into the top 50, Noskova is not daunted by the prospect.

“I think I developed my game. I am still trying to play aggressive. That's not going to change any time soon,” Noskova said.

“I think I worked a lot on my serve. Obviously it's not always the best side of my tennis.

“It's a lot of ups and downs, but I think I'm just developing my movement on court as well. So those are the sides that are my weaknesses probably.”

The Czech started the year just outside the top 100 when she landed in Adelaide but reeled off six straight wins, coming through qualifying to reach her first tour-level final.

Linda Noskova, Roland-Garros 2021, girls' singles final© Julien Crosnier/FFT

It was a giant-killing run that included wins over Daria Kasatkina, Victoria Azarenka and Ons Jabeur before Aryna Sabalenka halted her improbable push.

It was enough to catapult the 18-year-old into the top 70.

“I think since I'm playing with all these great players, I'm kind of getting used to the fact that I can play with them and win because in the past I was always, like, ‘Oh my God, I'm playing a big player. I'm just happy that I'm stepping on the court’," Noskova said.

"Now it's really, like, I can beat them. So it's a great feeling to just go and get prepared for such matches like these.”

A quarter-final in Lyon has been the highlight since before a bout of the flu dampened her clay-court preparations at an ITF event in Portugal.

“I didn't feel well on court, so I didn't really want to play in Madrid, which is a big tournament and big responsibility,” she said.

Linda Noskova, Roland-Garros 2023, first round© Clément Mahoudeau/FFT

“I wouldn't say that it was the best preparation of all, but coming to a Grand Slam, and Roland-Garros is always special for me every year, so even when I don't play good before coming here, I still feel confident and just happy and excited for the match.”

Given her junior and main draw breakthroughs on the terre battue in Paris it is easy to see why Roland-Garros is so close to the teenager’s heart.

Noskova is not entirely sure it is even her best surface. 

This could all change should she announced herself on a Grand Slam stage with an upset of the reigning Wimbledon champion.

“I think I have good results on (clay),” she said. “Better than on hard, but hard kind of feels better for my way of game. But results say everything so we'll see.”