Fearless Mandlik finding her own path

 - Alex Sharp

22-year-old is proud to join her mother, 1981 champ Hana Mandlikova, as a main draw competitor

Elizabeth Mandlik, 3e tour, qualifications, Roland-Garros 2023©Cédric Lecocq / FFT

Falling to her back on court in disbelief, Elizabeth Mandlik had just secured her first ever trip into the Roland-Garros main draw.

Moments later the American youngster called home, but didn't get much of a conversation.

"Yeah my phone was pinging. I called my Mum and she said 'Hi, I'll have to call you later', because she was so nervous," said Mandlik.

"She wasn't ready to talk at all. I got hold of her normal self about an hour later." 

Mandlik has played in the Australian Open and US Open main draw, replicating that milestone in Paris with a gruelling two-and-a-half hour triumph over Laura Pigossi on Thursday.

Mandlik's mother is Hana Mandlikova, the 1981 Roland-Garros champion. While it's easy to draw comparisons between mother and daughter, Mandlik is eager to plot her own path.

"She doesn't bring it up at all, I asked her to show me some of the matches. It's pretty cool," Mandlik told rolandgarros.com

"Also my grandpa was an Olympic sprinter, she followed that already. She knows I'm already following in her footsteps and it makes her really proud.

Hana Mandlikova, Roland Garros 2020©FFT

"For me I want to pass her. I've got to get past her four (majors) or win Wimbledon, because she never did that.

"My twin brother Mark Vilem is in tennis also, he's in college right now at Oklahoma University and might try to go pro after. He's very talented as well."

In a significant step for her own development, Mandlik reached a WTA 125 series final earlier this month at the Catalonia Open, courtesy of a pair of top-100 wins, prior to a narrow third-set tie-break loss to world No.44 Sorana Cirstea.

"It was a pretty big deal for me. It made me come here with a lot of confidence. Clay really isn’t my surface, but right now I feel like it is, I'm very positive," stated the world No.118, who was keen to pay credit to her Bolivian coach Sebastian Eguez.

"We always talk about my mum in interviews and I like to mention my coach too. He's been vital to where I am. We've been working together now from Florida for three and a half years.

"I was about No.700 in the world when he started and he's always been super positive, very knowledgeable and it shows with results like this."

Mandlik has a couple of days to embrace her passion for photography before a first round battle.

"If we go for dinner or something like that I take a photo for the memories. When I get home, I like to look at the photos and see where I was," explained the American, displaying her favourite snaps on a VSCO account.

"The Eiffel tower is the obvious choice, but around the courts here are beautiful too."

The 22-year-old faces fellow qualifier, Switzerland's Simona Waltert, in the first round. Looking ahead Mandlik would love a box-office clash.

"Me and my coach were looking at the draw, those spots for qualifiers, and I immediately said I wanted to be put on the big courts," claimed Mandlik. "I'd be fearless, I want that kind of match so bad."

She may still get her wish, with a possible second round with two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova on the cards.

Elizabeth Mandlik, Roland-Garros 2023, qualifying second round© Loïc Wacziak/FFT