The story of the women’s Miami event has been the return of Bianca Andreescu. After missing over a year due to injury, the Canadian has quickly found her US Open-winning form this week reaching the final after four straight tough 3-set wins.
Last night, the 20-year-old Andreescu hung on to beat Maria Sakkari 7-6(7), 3-6, 7-6(4) in 2 hours, 42 minutes. Due to early evening rains, the match ended just past 1:30am.
Sakkari held set points in the first and then led 4-2 in the third.
“I think 4-3, that’s when I broke her, I think,” Andreescu said of the third set momentum shift. “That was pretty key because if she won that game she would have been 5-3, she would have had more confidence. But I think I broke that by breaking her.
“Then I was on serve. But then she won the next two games. It was super up and down, like I can’t really say, but I think that was the key moment. And then just being on top of it right from the start in the tiebreaker.”
Andreescu has now reached the finals of four of her last five events in North America. She’s won her last 18 matches on the continent and 28 of her last 29. And in North America, 15 straight wins in three set matches.
“I have a lot of experience in these tough three-setters and digging through and finding a way,” she said. “Sometimes I literally feel like I’m an octopus out there running side to side, I feel like I have eight legs. It’s insane. Sometimes I don’t even know how I get to some shots. But it’s that fighting spirit I have always had in me, never giving up.
“Through experience you learn to find ways to deal with circumstances like this. It’s really showing. Like me playing with my back against the wall really brings out my best tennis.”
After a busy week, she’ll have a day of rest before the Saturday afternoon final against the defending champion Ash Barty.
“It’s nice because we all have different game styles,” Andreescu said. “I know a lot of people like to see that, having a different mix of everything. So to me, being a part of that feels really good.
“Now being in the finals and playing against her is going to be even cooler.”
Barty rolled into her second straight Miami final besting Elina Svitolina 6-3, 6-3. The Australian is now 12-2 on the season and she’s won her last 11 in Miami.
“It’s really exciting,” Barty said of returning the to the title match. “Obviously that’s the goal for any tournament you play is you always want to give yourself a chance to try and hold the title at the end. It’s an exciting opportunity now that we’re in another final here in Miami.”
Svitolina entered having won five of six from the World No. 1. And despite needing some treatment for an ab issue between sets, it was all Barty.
“Elina is an exceptional competitor,” said Barty. “She will never give you a free point. She’s proven that over an extended period. She’s been a top-10 player for a very, very long time. It’s sometimes a bit of a fine line when you play her.
“You have to be aggressive and you have to be able to take some risks. Knowing how good of a mover she is and how many balls she makes you play, you’re going to make errors. I think it’s just about kind of getting that fine line and getting that mix right.
Barty and Andreescu have never played before.
“I haven’t played her before, haven’t hit with her,” Barty said. “It’s a fresh one for both of us. But she’s proven time and time again that she loves the big matches, loves the big tournaments, and has the game and the physicality to win them.”
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