Self-belief propels battered Andreescu to maiden crown

Canadian Bianca Andreescu, 18, is the first wild card to win the prestigious WTA Indian Wells trophy.
Canadian Bianca Andreescu, 18, is the first wild card to win the prestigious WTA Indian Wells trophy.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LOS ANGELES • As part of her morning routine, Canadian teenager Bianca Andreescu finds a quiet place and visualises success.

"It's crazy to think that it became a reality today," she said on Sunday afternoon.

Not so crazy if you observed all the grit she had to summon under duress to defeat better-ranked players on her way to landing the WTA Indian Wells trophy, one of tennis' most prestigious.

However, it was far-fetched when you considered her lack of experience at this level and the quality of the players she had to beat, including the 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 defeat of three-time Grand Slam winner Angelique Kerber in Sunday's final to become the first wild card to win the tournament.

Expressing her wish that her first WTA title could "be a great inspiration for many young athletes", she said in her post-match interview: "Like I always say, if you believe in yourself, anything is possible."

Former world No. 1 Kerber was unable to prevail against Andreescu despite a huge edge in experience.

This was the German's 29th final on the Tour, and only her opponent's second. Kerber also had an apparent physical edge in the final phase of a gruelling match.

Andreescu had arrived on court with her right shoulder and forearm taped after winning six matches en route to the final. Despite requiring further treatment early in the third set, the 18-year-old found the will to finish off Kerber on her fourth match point.

Women's tennis, which is in a deeply compelling phase, has had quite a few memorable performances of late, including Naomi Osaka's run to the title at Indian Wells a year ago as an unseeded player.

That preceded the Japanese player's wins at the US Open and the Australian Open, and her rise to world No. 1, where she remains.

Asked if she saw that as motivation, Andreescu, who yesterday moved up from world No. 60 to 24, said: "Yeah, it's definitely an inspiration... and winning two Grand Slams right after that.

"But I don't really want to focus on the future right now. I just want to savour this."

And she will certainly enjoy her moment in the sun for now, with Australian tennis great Rod Laver taking to Twitter to proclaim that "a star is born".

YTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 19, 2019, with the headline 'Self-belief propels battered Andreescu to maiden crown'. Print Edition | Subscribe