Bianca Andreescu sent a message quickly to Serena Williams breaking the all-time great in the opening game of her first Grand Slam final at the US Open Sunday.
The 19-year-old Andreescu had lost in the first round of qualifying a year ago, but now found herself in the biggest tennis stadium in the world facing the biggest star in women’s sports, and she proved up to the challenge.
Andreescu broke and held for 2-0 then continue to serve effectively while Serena struggled with her serve and from the baseline. A quick 40-minute opening set went to the Canadian 6-3.
Serena would mount a charge in the second right? Wrong. Andreescu held again then thanks to another Serena double fault built a 2-0 love. Things went quickly to 5-1 with Andreescu serving, that’s when Serena woke up.
Andreescu held a match point which Serena saved and then, just like that, caught fire winning 16 of the next 20 points to improbably level.
The crowd noise was so loud Andreescu mocking put her fingers in her ear.
Trying to stop the momentum and the crowd, Andreescu managed to hold for 6-5, snapping a 4-game run for Serena.
And after a couple of Serena errors, she again arrived at match point at 15-40. A Serena ace saved one but the youngster put the legend away with a forehand to seal a 6-3, 7-5 victory.
“I had some doubts because I’ve witnessed her come back from being 5-0 down, 5-1 down, 5-2 down,” Andreescu said. “I just told myself to stick with my tactics. She started playing much better. I think the crowd really helped her, as well.
“I was blocking out the noise, or trying to. I could barely hear myself think really. It was really, really loud. But I guess that’s what makes this tournament so special,” she said.
“But it definitely wasn’t easy, especially when she started coming back in the second set. I mean, it was expected. She’s a champion. That’s what champions do. She’s done that many, many times throughout her career. But I just tried to stay as composed as I could. It’s hard to just block everything out, but I think I did a pretty good job at that.”
Andreescu becomes the first Canadian to even win a Grand Slam title and the first teen Slam winner since 19-year-old Maria Sharapova won the US Open in 2006.
“I’ve said this many, many times before. I’m going to say it again. It’s been a goal of mine to inspire many people, especially Canadian athletes,” Andreescu said. “I think that this win will hopefully do that, not only this win but just what I’ve accomplished this past year because so many Canadian athletes have paved the way for me when I was young.
“Hopefully I can be that person to them.”
Serena’s comeback fell just short at the end.
“Definitely disappointing,” Serena said. “It’s definitely a little bit of both. I felt like I could have done so many things a little bit better. But she played really well, and she deserves this championship.
“I was just thinking, honestly at that point, Wow, this is terrible. Like you got to play better. I have to do better. I just couldn’t go down like that, so I just wanted to play a little bit better.
Serena, who won her first Slam at the 1999 US Open when Andreescu wasn’t even alive, falls for a fourth straight time in her bid for a record-tying 24th Slam.
“I’m not necessarily chasing a record,” said Serena. “I’m just trying to win Grand Slams. It’s definitely frustrating, you know. But for the most part I just am still here. I’m still doing what I can do.”
Serena served so well all event, but in the first she only managed to get in just 44% of first serves and won just 30% of her second serves and was broken six times.
“You didn’t miss a serve, you lost serve maybe twice in the whole tournament, and you didn’t hit a first serve in today, so,” she told herself after.
“That was obviously on my mind, like how do I play at a level like this in a final? Again, I think Bianca obviously played well. I think her returns make me play better and puts pressure on my serve. At the same time it’s inexcusable for me to play at that level.”
Andreescu is now 34-4 on the season winning her last 14 matches and she’s a perfect 8-0 career in Top 10 matches. She will move to No. 5 in the rankings after starting the year No. 152.
Serena turns 38 in a few weeks and road to 24 won’t get any easier for the former No. 1.
“I believe I could have played better. I believe I could have done more. I believe I could have just been more Serena today,” she said. “I honestly don’t think Serena showed up. I have to kind of figure out how to get her to show up in Grand Slam finals.”
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