Bianca Andreescu completed one of the most stunning runs in recent WTA memory. The Canadian ranked outside the Top 150 at No. 152 at the start of the year, and now is a Premier Mandatory champion after shocking Angelique Kerber 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 to win the Indian Wells title Sunday.
“It’s been a crazy ride,” Andreescu said. “Truly a Cinderella story. Naomi did this last year. And now to be able to have my name in front of so many amazing champions is. It means the world to me.”
Undaunted by the playing for by far the biggest title of her career, the 18-year-old Andreescu came out of the block firing, breaking Kerber right away. She continued to overpower Kerber to grab the opening set.
The German fought back in the second and then looked in complete control up a break at 3-2 in the third.
Andreescu told her coach at the changeover before the 6th game that she was tiring. And things changed. Cramping slightly, the 5-foot-6 youngster got back to unloading and connecting on shots. Kerber was left flat-footed against this final, last-stand barrage. Andreescu rolled off three straight games but she couldn’t serve it out, missing on three match point chances.
Tensions rose and a fatiguing Andreescu had to overcame the weight of blowing those three MPs.
So would Kerber’s experience get her to level it at 5-all? Nope. Andreescu simply regrouped, brushed aside those three chances, and kept pounding and finally arrived at match point again and this time she converted.
“After I spoke to my coach, I just let it all out there,” said Andreescu of that meeting with her coach at 2-3. “At that point I was really tired, so I went for my shots more, and that obviously worked. The next couple games I did the same thing. And I just fought till the end, because physically I wasn’t feeling too well. Yeah, I fought till the end. I managed to pull through.”
With her win, Andreescu will rise from No. 60 in the rankings to 24. And she becomes the youngest Indian Wells champion since 17-year-old Serena Williams 20 years ago in 1999. She also follows Naomi Osaka’s incredible run a year ago.
“I have been in the zone, I think, every match,” Andreescu said. “There were some ups and downs in some matches, obviously. Tennis isn’t a perfect sport. So I’m just — this means everything to me.”
Kerber was trying to win her first title since Wimbledon, and her first at the Premier Mandatory level.
“After the first set, I was trying to come back,” Kerber said. “She played good, especially in the third set. When she had the chances, she’d just go for it. She put the balls in the court. At the end, she deserved to win.
“She played the whole tournament good. I know that I had to play my best tennis. But at the end I was not able to take my chances, but she did it.”
The two could collide again in the third round at the new Miami Open which begins a a few days.
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