The remarkable Indian Wells run of Canadian teenager Bianca Andreescu ended with the 18-year old holding the trophy aloft after posting a gritty 6-4 3-6 6-4 win over the German favourite, the eighth seeded Angelique Kerber, the reigning Wimbledon champion.
Naomi did this last year, Now to be able to have my name beside so many amazing champions it means the world to me. Bianca Andreescu
“If you believe in yourself, anything is possible,” Andreescu said as she hoisted the crystal trophy — the youngest player ever to win one of the WTA’s prestigious Premier Mandatory tournaments, and her first ever title on the main tour..
“It’s crazy. Crazy is the word of the tournament for me. Just crazy,” she added having become the first wildcard ever to win the event staged in the Californian desert
Ranked 60th at the start of the week and 178 at the end of 2018, Andreescu now rises to 24th in the world with her first WTA title in what is proving to be a breakthrough year for the youngster who has racked up 28 match wins this season at all levels, including qualifying and challenger events.
She showed no sign of nerves as she opened the match by breaking the Kerber serve and then retaining her focus and holding her own serve, to go and take the first set and put pressure on the German favourite.
And Kerber responded as expected, with her powerful and consistent aggressive baseline play to keep the Canadian on the defensive, crucially staving off two break points to hold for 2-1 and then breaking in the fourth game for her first break of the Andreescu serve. That was enough to secure the second set and force a decider.
It didn’t look good for Andreescu when she held for 2-1 in the third and called for treatment to her right arm and shoulder leading her to broken in the fifth game.
A quick word with her coach at the changeover lifted her spirits. She re-found her form, breaking back immediately to post a run of three consecutive game for a 5-3 lead.
Serving for the match and title she was pushed hard by Kerber who save three match points before earning a hard-fought break.
But then Andreescu broke Kerber for the third time in the set to seal the victory, giving herself a break point with a blistering forehand before Kerber ended things on an unforced error on the fourth match point to spark the Canadian’s victory celebrations. She kissed the sun-baked court and flopped spread-eagled on her back!
“After I spoke to my coach I just let it all out there,” she later said in explaining her revival. “I was really tired, so I went for my shots more, and that obviously worked.
“The next couple games I did the same thing. And I just fought till the end, because physically I wasn’t feeling too well. I fought till the end. I managed to pull through.”
Meanwhile Kerber, who hasn’t won a title since she beat Serna Williams in last year’s Wimbledon final, admitted: “She did a good job then at the end, especially the last three games.”
The teenager’s run to the final included rallying from 3-1 down in the third set to beat Irina-Camelia Begu in the first round and a 6-0, 6-1 rout of former world number one Garbine Muguruza of Spain, with a three-set win over sixth-ranked Elina Svitolina putting her into the title match.
Andreescu follows in the footsteps of 2018 champion Naomi Osaka, who won her first WTA title at Indian Wells to launch her stellar season and becomes the fourth unseeded champion after Serena Williams in 1999, Kim Clijsters in 2005 and Osaka.
“Naomi did this last year,” Andreescu said. “Now to be able to have my name beside so many amazing champions it means the world to me.”