Mirra Andreeva given point penalty at key moment as 16-year-old exits Wimbledon

Mirra Andreeva given point penalty at key moment as 16-year-old exits Wimbledon

Teenager Mirra Andreeva was given a point penalty for throwing her racket and refused to shake the umpire’s hand in a fourth-round loss to Madison Keys at Wimbledon.

The 16-year-old Russian, who has been a crowd favourite on her debut at the All England Club, looked set to become the youngest player since Anna Kournikova in 1997 to make the quarter-finals here when she led by a set and 4-1.

But Keys fought back and Andreeva was given her first warning by umpire Louise Azemar Engzell after flinging her racket across the grass when she lost the second-set tie-break.

She then appeared to throw her racket again when Keys forced deuce at 2-5 in the deciding set, earning a second warning and an automatic point penalty, which gave her opponent a match point.

Andreeva argued her case with Azemar Engzell, saying: “Do you understand what you are doing? I didn’t throw the racket. I slid. It’s the wrong decision. I slid and then I fell.”

But the decision stood and Keys won the next point to clinch a 3-6 7-6 (4) 6-2 victory, with Andreeva heading to the net to shake hands with her opponent but walking straight past the umpire.

Anna Kournikova, left, reached the semi-finals in 1997
Anna Kournikova, left, reached the semi-finals aged 16 in 1997 (Fiona Hanson/PA)

Andreeva had feared being defaulted after whacking a ball angrily into the crowd at the French Open and teenage petulance is something she will clearly need to grow out of, but there is no doubt she is a special talent.

She had not played on grass until the qualifying tournament two weeks ago but she has learned quickly on the surface and her mix of terrific defence and intelligent point construction will win her a lot of matches.

For nearly an hour she was completely in control, with Keys, who possesses one of the most natural ball strikes in the game but can be very erratic, making error after error.

The American pulled herself together just in time, changing her tactics to follow her big groundstrokes to the net and even breaking serve with a left-handed forehand winner.

By the time the second-set tie-break came around, it was Keys who had the momentum, and Andreeva was unable to shrug off her disappointment at the beginning of the deciding set.

She briefly threatened to turn things around again but Keys kept her composure while Andreeva lost hers and with it the match.