Bianca Andreescu became the first teenager in a decade to reach the US Open semifinals with a come-from-behind victory over Elise Mertens.
The 19-year-old Canadian beat the Belgian 3-6 6-2 6-3 under lights at Arthur Ashe Stadium to set up a battle with 13th seed Belinda Bencic.
Bencic earlier on Wednesday beat Donna Vekic in straight sets to advance to her first Grand Slam semifinal.
Andreescu finds herself at this stage of a major tournament for the first time as well.
“This is honestly so crazy. A year ago I was in the qualifying round. I remember I was suffering from a back injury and now what I’ve accomplished this year, I’m honestly speechless — I need someone to pinch me right now. Honestly, like, is this real life?!” she said on court.
“It’s definitely not going to be easy (against Bencic). She is an incredible player. She’s had an incredible career so far. She’s really young. So I’m really looking forward to it and hopefully I can play my best tennis.”
That match will follow the first women’s semifinal between fifth seed Elina Svitolina and No.8 seed Serena Williams on Thursday night.
Who will win the #USOpen women's singles title?
— Tennismash (@tennismash) September 5, 2019
The Canadian overcame a listless, error-prone start to eventually outmuscle Mertens, the Australian Open 2018 semifinalist.
Andreescu’s unforced error tally dropped with each set while her winner count, in contrast, rose. By the end of the match, she’d belted 40 winners to Mertens’ 22, and won 23-of-28 points at net.
“Elise, she played really really well, so I just tried to stay as calm as possible because I was getting a little bit irritated because I didn’t think I was playing my best tennis (early in the match),” Andreescu said.
“I just told myself to just stay calm and stick to the tactics, which I think really helped in the second and third set.”
A champion in Toronto prior to the US Open, Andreescu has built a 12-match winning streak, with her last loss coming in the fourth round of the Miami Open.
In between Miami (in March) and Toronto (in August), Andreescu played just one match — a first-round win at Roland Garros — as she dealt with a shoulder injury.
The victory over Mertens, achieved in just over two hours, improved Andreescu’s already-impressive stats in 2019; she is now 13-3 in three-set matches and 43-4 overall.
“I’ve been working a lot on my fitness and my mental strength. So I think it’s just all the hard work I’ve been putting in,” she said.
This year she has has risen from outside the top 100 to No.15, and is projected to crack the top 10 when next week’s rankings are released. Less than a year ago, during the week of 22 October 2018, she was ranked No.243.
According to the WTA note, there are some examples if you consider players starting with no ranking.
But if we consider only ranked players, the lowest was Kim Clijsters: n.134 on 6th March 2005, top-10 in mid-August of the same year, YE n.2 and n.1 at beginning of March 2006.
— Diego Barbiani (@Diego_Barbiani) September 4, 2019
Andreescu’s last loss, to Anett Kontaveit in the Miami Open fourth round, came when Andreescu retired when trailing 6-1 2-0.
Her last loss in a completed match? You have to go back to February, when she fell 6-4 3-6 7-5 to Sofia Kenin in the Acapulco semifinals.
“I think it’s just the experience of playing these huge tournaments this past year,” Andreescu said of her confidence and composure.
“I played in front of a huge crowd in Australia, at Indian Wells (where she also won the title), in Toronto. So I think all of that experience is just catching up.”
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