Mayar Sherif credits her tough upbringing in Egypt with developing a fighting spirit that has served her well on the WTA Tour.
Sheriff earned her second top-ten win this week when she eliminated world No. 5 Caroline Garcia.
She became the first woman from Egypt to reach the quarterfinals of a WTA 1000 event, defeating Elise Mertens in the fourth round.
Sheriff said she must have been crazy to believe she could make it to the WTA tour from Egypt, and she continues to push herself to win the opportunity.
«My choice,» Sheriff told WTATennis.com.
“It was crazy to be a professional tennis player. Obsessed with beating people outside of Egypt. Believing that I would reach the top.
“Life in Egypt is different. The culture, everything, is more difficult. You have to achieve a lot just to get on the court. I grew up in tough conditions, I played under a lot of pressure from my childhood. That’s where I got my fighting spirit.»
Sheriff said she was motivated to get one back on Garcia after being sacked in a previous defeat by the Frenchwoman.
She played in an ITF event in Portugal last week and has helped her qualify for the last four races in Oeiras.
«It helped me find a match rhythm last week,» said Sherif.
It gave me the confidence to win even though I played low matches. I lost the first game 6-0, but after that I played better.
“This race, I was ready for that. I had a mental chip that said, ‘OK, I lost last time and I’m going to try to play with more confidence.’ I believed I could beat her.”
Sheriff had to be strong in her duel with Mertens as well, winning the second at love after the Belgian responded to a drop.
However, Sheriff said it only took one good game to get her back on track.
I had to take my time thinking that I had to be aggressive to get my confidence back,” Sharif said. «He lost 6-0 after winning one game.»
Sheriff also showed excellent clay court skills and shifted the tempo of the game to the wrong-footed Mertens.
«It was a good strategy against her because she doesn’t like high balls — she likes balls coming at her fast,» Sheriff said.
“I know it’s not easy, especially playing at a high level. But I know you’re always thinking about it and it’s uncomfortable. I try to take that opportunity and mix it up.”
Sheriff has beaten some very good players to reach the last eight, but her biggest test will be against Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka.
Read more: Iga Swaytech is eager to hit the books sooner rather than later.