Serena Williams was the big favorite in her semifinal against unheralded qualifier Marie Bouzkova tonight at the Canadian Open. But the young Czech had other ideas.
Moving Serena around and forcing the 3-time Canadian champ into an array of errors, Bouzkova took the first set 6-1, then was still in a good position serving 3-all in the second. That’s when the wheels came off.
Serena began finding the range and no more was 21-year-old in charge of rallies. Serena stood in the middle of the and overpowered the much smaller Bouzkova, and really took advantage of her second serve to score a 1-6, 6-3, 6-3 win.
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,” Serena said.
“In the first set, I was going for a little too much, so I just had to just play a different game. That was really important for me was to just change it up and move it around and not be so predictable.
“It’s a good lesson for me in the future, as well, more than anything. I definitely feel more grooved in, but at the same time I feel like — you know, I feel good still. I feel really good. I’ve been doing a lot of training and all the right things, so we’ll see how I feel tomorrow.”
The 91st-ranked Bouzkova stormed through qualifying then knocked out three straight Slam winners and was on the brink of beating a fourth who happened to also be her idol.
Next up for Serena will be another young star, Canadian local Bianca Andreescu. The 19-year-old reached her first Canadian Open final after taking down Serena’s victor at the French, Sofia Kenin, 6-4, 7-6(5).
“I’ve been through so much the past two months, and all I can say is I’m so happy to be back on court…I’m in the final of the Rogers Cup,” Andreescu told the crowd.
“I’m glad it was two sets today, but it wasn’t easy. I was so so nervous, and I just felt like crying after because I’m just so happy. I’d say this is even bigger than winning Indian Wells.”
The last Canadian to compete in the final at a previous iteration of the event came at the onset of Open Era tennis, in an all-Canadian final between Faye Urban and Vicki Berner at what was then called the Canadian Open in 1969.
Said Serena, “She hasn’t played a lot, but she’s won a lot. So she’s done really well. Yeah, I haven’t either. But now we both are starting to get healthy and play a little bit more.
“The crowd will obviously be for her. I definitely would 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.”
Andreescu 35-4 on the year including qualifying and has won two titles in three finals including Indian Wells. Serena is seeking her first title as a mom.
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