Bianca Andreescu has set up a mouthwatering clash with Serena Williams in the US Open final after beating Belinda Bencic on Thursday night at Flushing Meadows.
Andreescu saved a set point in the first set and then reeled off five straight games from 5-2 down in the second to record a 7-6(3) 7-5 win over the Swiss, a result sending her through to the first Grand Slam final of her burgeoning career.
Williams earlier on Thursday evening swatted aside Elina Svitolina to reach her 10th final in New York, and second in a row.
Andreescu becomes the second Canadian woman through to a Grand Slam final after Eugenie Bouchard progressed to the title match at Wimbledon in 2014.
Her win also sets up an rematch of the Rogers Cup final in Toronto in August, which Andreescu won after back spasms forced Williams to retire just four games into the match.
It also led to one of the most poignant post-match moments of the season.
“I watched you your whole career. You’re a f–king beast.”
Serena Williams had to retire from the Rogers Cup with an injury, and her opponent Bianca Andreescu came over to comfort her. Respect ????
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) August 11, 2019
“It’s never easy, retiring, for an athlete. Especially in the finals of a tournament. So I just went up to her, I told her that she’s a beast and that she’s gonna bounce back and I mean she did — she’s in the finals. So I’m really looking forward to facing her again,” Andreescu said on court.
“It’s just surreal. I really don’t know what to say. It’s a dream come true, playing against Serena in the finals of the US Open. Like I don’t know what to say (laughter). It’s crazy, it’s crazy!”
This time last year, Andreescu, then ranked No.208, lost in the first round of US Open qualifying in straight sets to Olga Danilovic.
Twelve months on she is through to the final in her first main-draw appearance.
Both proving age is just a number. But, for the record, Serena vs Andreescu and the 18 years between them is the largest age gap for women’s final in Open Era.
— Chris McKendry (@ChrisMcKendry) September 6, 2019
How did this happen, came the inevitable question. “Don’t ask me that, because I wouldn’t know what to say,” she smiled.
“I think it’s just all the hard work I’ve been putting throughout the years. If someone told me a year ago that I’d be in the finals of the US Open this year, I’d tell them: you’re crazy.”
Despite Andreescu going on to beat Bencic, the Swiss for many stages of the match looked the superior player.
She held serve far more efficiently than the Canadian teen — she didn’t hand Andreescu a break point until the sixth game of the second set — and put Andreescu under pressure with her impressive returning.
Bencic held a set point in the 10th game, which Andreescu erased with a forehand winner, but in the subsequent tiebreak Andreescu wrested control of the momentum, forging ahead 5-0.
Bencic, who failed to convert any of the six break points she created in set one, settled at the beginning of the second, breaking serve to move ahead 2-0 and eventually building a 5-2 lead over an increasingly irritated Andreescu.
Yet the 15th seed dug in, added some sting to her groundstrokes, and began to reel in the Swiss.
As Andreescu improved, Bencic’s game deserted her, and she looked more and more flustered. And with Andreescu seeing the finish line, the Canadian went for it, bringing up match points in the 12th game and converting on her third.
So, 37 year old Serena Williams vs 19 year old Bianca Andreescu will compete for the US Open title.
Serena won the title 20 years ago, Andreescu is in her first ever US Open main draw and she was not born when Serena first won. What the hell.
— Tumaini Carayol (@tumcarayol) September 6, 2019
Andreescu improves her win-loss record in 2019 to a stunning 44-4 as well as extending her winning streak to 13 matches.
She will be aiming for her third title of the season after winning Indian Wells and Toronto.
“I think it all started in Auckland,” Andreescu said of her first tournament of the year, where she won three rounds of qualifying before upsetting Caroline Wozniacki and Venus Williams en route to the semifinals.
“But I think I just kept that momentum going, especially through Indian Wells — I think Indian Wells was definitely my breakthrough.”
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