Bianca Andreescu became the first Canadian in tennis history to claim a Grand Slam singles trophy as she defeated Serena Williams 6-3, 7-5 in the final of the US Open on Saturday at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Centre in New York City.
As Serena kicked off the match with a smooth ace out wide, Andreescu would have had every reason to be nervous ahead of their championship encounter. Would the ace be an omen for the barrage of Williams’ best yet to come? Six players have seen Serena blow by them with her best tennis – what would make Saturday, September 7th in front of a sold-out Arthur Ashe stadium crowd any different?
Sure enough, Bianca was about to make it different.
Breaking the Williams serve in the very first game was exactly the confidence boost that the 19-year-old Grand Slam final debutante needed. She didn’t hit an unforced error until 3-1 – the exact same score as their incomplete Rogers Cup final in Toronto less than a month ago – and threatened to go up a double break six times on the Serena serve in the seventh game.
The 23-time Grand Slam champion would save all six, however, immediately applying pressure to the Andreescu serve in the proceeding game. One ace, one service winner and one blazing forehand down the line; suddenly it was all gone for Williams, who ultimately surrendered another service game – and the set – on an untimely double fault.
Andreescu would bring more of the same at the start of the second set and, with Serena’s footwork and serve failing her, found herself up 2-0 before a lucky net cord winner on the proceeding service game saw the set go back on serve.
The Canadians resolve was tested as she recalibrated her focus and, specifically, her returning, breaking Serena in consecutive return games with some stunning gets to suddenly find herself serving for Canadian history at 6-3, 5-1 up.
However, there was another plot twist to come.
Staring down her fourth consecutive loss in a Grand Slam final at 40-30, championship point on Andreescu’s serve, Williams – famous for her comebacks in the face of defeat – was able to rifle a booming forehand return winner to level the score. Awakened by the sudden resurfacing of Williams’ best tennis, the sold-out Arthur Ashe crowd – packed with celebrities and die-hard fans alike – erupted with energy, which began to transcend the American legend’s tennis as she reeled in Andreescu to 5-5 in what seemed like the blink of an eye.
A gutsy hold to stop the bleeding in the eleventh game was exactly what the Canadian teenager needed as she once again edged ahead. Serving to stay in the match, Andreescu was unable to get a racquet on the ball – for worse or for better. Serena alternated between aces and double faults as finally, with one thunderous return winner on her third championship point – reminiscent of the one Williams hit to save the first – Bianca Andreescu was the US Open champion.
“I was feeling many, many things before the match, more than any other match,” she said in her post-match press conference. “In the finals, playing Serena. I just tried to breathe as much as I could from the moment I woke up until the match. I tried to just do that throughout the whole match, to just keep my nerves in place.”
Andreescu has had a meteoric rise in 2019. She ended her 2018 campaign ranked no. 178 in the world and was experiencing some injury problems. She then went on a deep run early in the year at a WTA tournament in Auckland, eventually falling in the final to Julia Goerges. She would continue the momentum she built throughout the season, moving up over 170 spots in the rankings and going undefeated against every Top 10 player she faced, with 8 wins and counting.
“This has been my dream. There are so many emotions going through my body right now, it’s really hard to describe,” said a speechless Andreescu just moments after her win.
On Monday, she will see her ranking rise up to no. 5, which is a career-best for the young Canadian. She also has yet to lose a completed match since February, putting up an impressive record of 45 wins and only 5 losses in 2019. Earlier this year, she captured the WTA titles in Indians Wells and at the Rogers Cup in Toronto.
SOURCE: Tennis Canada
Photos from USA Today and US Open