Toronto | Andreescu carrying a nation’s hopes
For the organisers of the WTA Rogers Cup in Toronto, the appearance of Bianca Andreescu and Serena Williams in this year’s final, it’s a dream come true in what is proving to be exciting times for Canadian tennis.
I'm in the finals of the Rogers Cup. Life's freaking amazing. Bianca Andreescu
Andreescu ‘s arrival in the final followed a tough but engaging battle with Sofia Kenin, another feisty player, with the pair defending from the baseline and easily changing the direction of the ball in what proved an open and creative match which the home favourite won 6-4 7-6(5).
“It’s always nice to go into a match with someone like Sofia. She’s an incredible fighter and she never gives up. So it’s a pleasure for me to share a court with someone like that because I think it pushes me even harder to do better.
“So, yeah, it was definitely a game of cat and mouse today. We were drop-shoting each other, we were coming to the net, all that stuff. So it’s never easy to play someone like that.”
The 19-year-old Andreescu was overcome with emotion at reaching the final after being a couple of months off with a shoulder injury.
“Well, the reason why I was really emotional was because of all the emotions I had during that tiebreaker. I think my body just wanted to let it all out. And also because it’s just so incredible that I’m in the finals right now of the Rogers Cup. I had zero expectations coming into this tournament.
“And just with all that I’ve been through. The past couple of months have been so, so, so, so tough. So just being able to be here right now is truly incredible.
“All I can say is that I’m just so happy to be back on court right now. My shoulder’s good. I’m in the finals of the Rogers Cup. Life’s freaking amazing.”
Meanwhile Kenin was left licking her wounds while admitting that the raucous support of Andreescu had played a part in her loss.
“I don’t play in those kind of conditions, so it’s not like I can practice,” Kenin said.
“I tried to just block it out and do the best I can.”
That support shouldn’t affect Serena Williams who, at 37-years-of age, has experienced many a partisan crowd during her professional career. More worrying for her as she prepares for the US Open where she is aiming to pick up her 24th major, is that she dropped a set to her semi-final opponent, qualifier Marie Bouskova from the Czech Republic, at 21 and ranked 91, another youngster coming up the rankings.
The American came through 1-6 6-3 6-3 and is happy she is getting the sort of workouts she needs to get ready for Flushing Meadows.
Williams, seeded eighth in a tournament she has won three times is seeking her first title since she won her 23rd Grand Slam title at the 2017 Australian Open – and her first since the birth of her daughter last September.
Reflecting on her loss of the first set Williams said: “I just needed to be more consistent and not make so many errors and just mentally be ready to hit a thousand balls if I needed to. In the first set, I was going for a little too much, so I just had to just play a different game.”
Bouzkova however, leaves Toronto having beaten three straight Grand Slam winners in Sloane Stephens, Jelena Ostapenko and, in the quarter-finals, reigning Wimbledon champion Simona Halep – who retired injured after dropping the first to the Czech on Friday night.
Looking ahead to the finals where Andreescu and loyal and vocal crowd await her, Williams commented: “I’ve never faced her, but I’ve kind of become a fan with everyone rooting and cheering so hard. It’s kind of been contagious, the ‘Bianca Effect.’
“The crowd will obviously be for her. I definitely would be too. But it’s really not about that. It’s just about going out there and playing your great tennis.
“Luckily, I’ve had some tough crowds in my career, so hopefully I will be used to it.”