Andreescu stays hot

Bianca Andreescu screaming in delight after defeating Elina Svitolina 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 to become the first woman wild card to enter the Indian Wells final on Friday.
Bianca Andreescu screaming in delight after defeating Elina Svitolina 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 to become the first woman wild card to enter the Indian Wells final on Friday.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

After beating Svitolina, teenage wild card faces Kerber at Indian Wells for maiden title

INDIAN WELLS • Watching the top women's tennis players on TV, Bianca Andreescu dreamt that she would one day play on the same big stage and compete for a trophy.

That came true in January but unfortunately for her, she finished runner-up at the Auckland Open.

On Friday, though, she gave herself another shot at winning her first WTA Tour title when she became the youngest player to reach the final at Indian Wells in 20 years after beating Ukraine's Elina Svitolina 6-3, 2-6, 6-4.

The 18-year-old Canadian continued her magical run by overcoming sixth seed Svitolina to set up a final with three-time Grand Slam champion Angelique Kerber, who beat Belinda Bencic 6-4, 6-2.

"This past week, it's been a dream come true playing in front of these amazing crowds," Andreescu said after putting her name alongside Serena Williams, who reached and won the 1999 final at 17.

"It's incredible. Another goal of mine was to make history and I just did. I really need a moment to soak this all in. This is just so incredible.

"Today, I believed in myself playing against these top players. I've watched them play so many times on TV so it's so incredible to play against them and win."

Andreescu, ranked 60th in the world after starting the year at 107, has shown a knack for competing against the stars, having beaten Caroline Wozniacki in Auckland.

She also defeated another former world No. 1, Garbine Muguruza, in the quarter-finals at Indian Wells.

Against Svitolina, she survived 2hr 12min of "roller-coaster" tennis to prevail.

Svitolina broke Andreescu's service twice in the first three games to storm to a 3-0 lead.

But the youngster stormed back with aggressive groundstrokes to win six straight games and the opening set.

In the decider, Andreescu showed resilience by saving nine of the 10 break points against her and breaking Svitolina twice out of her three chances to win.

"In the third set I kept my composure, at least tried to. I pumped myself up," Andreescu said.

"It was a crazy match. It was a roller coaster. I'm really happy I pulled through."

Kerber reached today's final by overcoming the red-hot Bencic, who defeated world No. 1 Naomi Osaka this week and was coming off a win in Dubai last month.

The German overcame a 4-2 deficit in the opening set to reach her first final in Indian Wells.

"I was trying to focus on my side of the court and going for it when I had the chance," Kerber said.

"I'm really looking forward to a really tough battle (against Andreescu). She's here as a wild card, she has nothing to lose and she's a great player."



Final: StarHub Ch201, tomorrow, 6.30am

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 17, 2019, with the headline 'Andreescu stays hot'. Print Edition | Subscribe