Indian Wells | Andreescu continues to surprise opponents
All eyes will be on the Canadian teenager, Bianca Andreescu, playing the Indian Wells tournament on a wildcard, as she takes on the Wimbledon champion from Germany, Angelique Kerber, for the WTA Premier Mandatory event’s title.
This is so incredible, this past week, it's a dream come true Bianca Andreescu
The 18-year-old, who dismissed the two-time Grand Slam champion Garbine Muguruza for the loss of just one game in the previous round, dropped her first set of the week when she beat the sixth seed from the Ukraine, Elina Svitolina 6-3 2-6 6-4 for her third seeded scalp of the week.
“This is so incredible, this past week, it’s a dream come true,” she said after Friday’s 2-hour and 12-minute victory.
“I believe in myself playing against these top players. I’ve watched them on TV and it’s great to play them and win. Either one in the final, I have nothing to lose.”
She didn’t have long to wait to discover who she would be playing in the final as Kerber brought Belinda Bencic’s excellent 12-match winning streak to an end after 67-minutes, 6-4 6-2.
“I’m really looking forward for a really tough battle,” said reigning Wimbledon champion Kerber, seeded eighth in California as she looks ahead to playing the first wildcard to reach the finals at Indian Wells.
“I know I have to play my best tennis because she was a wildcard here, but she is a really great player.”
Andreescu made a nervous start in her first premier-level semi-final and was broken twice in the first 10-minutes to trail 3-0 but she then surprised Svitolina by winning six-straight games to take the first set.
The 23-year-old Svitolina was not too disheartened as she bounced back in the second breaking te youngster twice to jump into a 4-1 lead. A double fault followed by a misjudged drop shot from the Canadian in the eighth game pushed the match into a decider.
There Andreesu rediscovered her earlier form to break first to lead 2-0 but her efforts were starting to show in her tired legs, allowing Svitolina to regroup and level for 3-3.
Refusing to give in, the teenager retaliated with another break and, after saving three break points, secured a match-winning 5-3 advantage. However, she missed three match points but eventually Svitolina cracked on the fourth when she netted a return to concede the place in the final.
At the end the Ukrainian admitted that she was playing with an inflamed right knee and declared: “I couldn’t allow myself to play 100 per cent because my movement was not there.”
Meanwhile Andreescu, who ended last year ranked 178 can now expect to crash into the top 20 when the new lists are published next week.