Andreescu eager to face Serena

MAJOR MILESTONE::Bianca Andreescu is bidding to become the first teenage Grand Slam champion since Maria Sharapova won at Flushing Meadows in 2006

AFP, NEW YORK

Sat, Sep 07, 2019 - Page 16

Canadian teenager Bianca Andreescu is eagerly awaiting today’s US Open title showdown with 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams, in a rematch of last month’s Toronto final that was cut short by injury.

Andreescu, 19, playing at just her fourth Grand Slam and making her US Open main draw debut, has enjoyed a rapid rise over the past nine months after finishing last year ranked 178th in the world.

She on Thursday became just the second Canadian woman — after Eugenie Bouchard at Wimbledon in 2014 — to reach a Grand Slam final following a 7-6 (7/3), 7-5 win over 13th seed Belinda Bencic of Switzerland.

Andreescu is to face a record-chasing Williams, who won her first major title at the 1999 US Open before Andreescu was even born, after the American eighth seed crushed Ukrainian fifth seed Elina Svitolina 6-3, 6-1.

The pair met at the Rogers Cup in Toronto, but it was a brief encounter, with Williams retiring while trailing 3-1 in the final due to a back injury.

“I’ve wanted to play her. I remember always telling my team I would have always wanted to play her right before she retires. I’m really looking forward to it. She’s an amazing champion on and off the court. It’s going to be fun,” Andreescu said. “A lot of emotions are running through my body right now. A lot of thoughts, too, but right now I’m just trying to take in the victory of tonight. Hopefully, I can just keep the momentum going for the final. Hopefully, I can play a little bit better than I did today.”

Andreescu is the second teenage Grand Slam finalist this year — after French Open runner-up Marketa Vondrousova — and is bidding to become the first teen Grand Slam champion since Maria Sharapova won at Flushing Meadows in 2006.

“If someone told me a year ago I would be in the US Open final this year, I’d tell them they were crazy,” Andreescu said. “I don’t think I would have believed them. I was ranked, like, outside of the 150, I think. It’s just crazy what a year can do. If someone would have said that a couple weeks ago, I think I would have believed them.”

Andreescu saved a set point in the opening set against Bencic, before edging the tiebreak.

She then trailed by a double break at 5-2 in the second set, but reeled off the final five games to close out the match.

“I think when I’m down, I play my best tennis. Whenever my back is against the wall, I think I’m just extra focused in those moments,” Andreescu said. “I remember I told myself at 5-2 that I didn’t want to go in three sets. So I think just that switched my mindset. I was just really, really focused.”