A new queen emerges from Indian Wells
Bianca Andreescu of Canada made history when she defeated Germany’s feisty player, Angelique Kerber 6/4, 3/6, 6/4 to emerge the queen at Indian Wells, California. She is the first wild card entrant to win the 1000-point event categorized by the Women’s Tennis Association as a Mandatory Premier tournament. The event raised the attention for tennis in her home country.
The Canadian teenager was 2-3 down in the third set but won three straight games for a 5-3 lead. Serving for the match, she had three match points but the three-time Grand Slam winner cancelled them and secured the break. In the ninth game, Andreescu hit a blistering forehand to reach the fourth match point, which she retained when Kerber netted a ball.
At victory, she kissed the court surface and stretched herself flat on her back. Aptly, the finalist Angelique Kerber described her “the greatest drama queen ever.”
The 18-year old Andreescu was close to defeat in the first round when she trailed 1-3 but rallied to overcome Irina-Camelia Begu. She defeated Spain’s Garbine Muguruza 6/0; 6/1 en route to a three-set victory over Elina Svitolina in the semi-finals. Her path to the title had been helped with the exit of the top contenders.
The defending champion and world number one, Naomi Osaka suffered a 6/3; 6/1 upset by Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic. Serena Williams withdrew on account of knee injury, while her sister, Venus was defeated by Kerber.
The boisterous teenager’s ranking moved up 128 places to world 24 on account of her victory. Back in Canada where broadcasting rights had not been obtained for the tournament, she became an instant celebrity.
In the sport, she attained recognition as compatriots Eugene Bouchard (former WTA number 5) and Milos Raonic (former ATP number 3).
How would she handle the pressure? Of her meteoric rise, Andreescu said: “A year ago, I was struggling with my body and tennis, and played 250-point tournaments in Japan. Now, winning this tournament, the word is crazy. You never know what next week can bring. Maybe I’ll have a bad day. Maybe my opponent will play unbelievable. The only pressure is the pressure I put on myself. I try not to think about the press, fans or anything. If you believe in yourself, anything is possible.”