US Open 2019: Emulating past legends, Bianca Andreescu shuts out noise to beat Serena Williams for first Grand Slam title

Bianca Andreescu blocked the noise out at Arthur Ashe Stadium and subdued a fired-up Serena Williams for a stunning victory in the final of the US Open.

Deepti Patwardhan September 08, 2019 09:48:43 IST
US Open 2019: Emulating past legends, Bianca Andreescu shuts out noise to beat Serena Williams for first Grand Slam title
  • Bianca Andreescu blocked the noise out at Arthur Ashe Stadium and subdued a fired-up Serena Williams for a stunning victory in the final of the US Open.

  • On her US Open main draw debut, the Canadian teenager has brought all that intensity as she has set about dismantling opponents.

  • In Saturday's final, the Canadian had to use all those tricks, and problem solve her way past the greatest of all time in the women's game.

There was a point in the second set, as Serena Williams attempted an almighty comeback, when the roar inside Arthur Ashe Stadium turned so loud that Bianca Andreescu had to literally cover her ears. But the 19-year-old, whose composure has been the talk of tennis town this fortnight, blocked the noise out, and subdued a fired-up Williams for a stunning 6-3, 7-5 victory in the final of the US Open.

"I could barely hear myself think really. It was really, really loud," said Andreescu after becoming the first Canadian to win a singles Grand Slam title. "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."

US Open debutant Andreescu had just seen her 5-1 lead in the second set being erased as Williams raised her level, refusing to go down as meekly as she had in the past three Grand Slam finals. The quest to equal Margaret Court's all-time record of 24 majors has revealed a vulnerability in Williams that previously seemed improbable. The American legend, just one short of Court's tally, had played a scratchy set and a half, conceding Andreescu two breaks of serve in the opening set with double faults. But Williams, buoyed by her home crowd, picked up pace in the second set and started drilling some winners.

Unfortunately for the battling Williams, Andreescu has learnt her tennis lessons from the best. And she learnt how to absorb pressure and stay in the fight from the younger Williams sister.

"We're really similar in that we both are fighters and we both are really intense," the American later acknowledged. "I feel like we both enjoy what we do, but at the same time — it's hard to describe — super intense with what we do."

On her US Open main draw debut, the Canadian teenager has brought all that intensity as she has set about dismantling opponents. Mixing power with variety, strategizing with a sharp mind and executing it all with a cool hand, Andreescu plays a game beyond her years. She has been the revelation of the tournament, and the year.

Ranked 208 at the same time last year, the Canadian has made some stunning inroads in women's tennis this year. She broke through the ranks, defeating Garbine Muguruza, Elina Svitolina and Angelique Kerber in the final to win the Indian Wells Masters, her first tour title. She was beset with injuries during the summer but came back strong in the US Open hard-court series, winning the Rogers Cup. The Canadian is 8-0 against top-10 opponents in two years on the pro tour and has not lost a completed match this year since February (22-0). Saturday’s win means the Ontario-born player now has three titles: one Grand Slam and two Masters events. Talk about big-match temperament.

While a teenage phenom is still a recognizable quantity, however rare nowadays, in tennis, Andreescu's run from the left of the field has left the tennis community drawing comparisons with past champions with her game and its sudden rise.

Tennis legend Martina Navratilova, in her column for WTA tennis website, said Andreescu reminded her of her namesake Martina Hingis.

"Everyone knows how to bang the ball; it's when you bring something extra to the table that it makes all the difference," wrote Navratilova. "And Andreescu brings a lot of extra to the table. Think the variety (almost) of Martina Hingis, but with more power."

Meanwhile, former Australian Open champion Caroline Wozniacki, who has lost both her career meetings with Andreescu compared her with Kim Clijsters. "I think because she moves well and she can stretch out and get to some balls and also play the aggressive and using the angles," said the Dane. "Obviously she prefers the forehand just like Kim.... But she can move around the backhand and put the angle on it."

In Saturday's final, the Canadian had to use all those tricks, and problem solve her way past the greatest of all time in the women's game. She kept Williams shackled with body serves and kept her off-balance with weight and depth of her groundstrokes. Andreescu, who visualizes almost every single match, had played this out in her mind's eye and believed her best chance lay in making Williams work for, and earn every point. Not every teenager, playing the biggest match of their career, can go in with such gumption and then execute it near perfectly. Playing a steady match, the Canadian finished with 19 winners to 17 unforced errors while Williams had 33 winners to 33 unforced errors. It was the eight double faults that hurt the American the most, seeding doubts into her most trusted weapon.

Andreescu pounced on another hesitant second serve from Willians, hitting an inside-in forehand winner on the return to seal the second set 7-5 and the match in an hour and 40 minutes.

"It's so crazy, man. I've been ... Sorry ... I’ve been dreaming of this moment for the longest time," said Andreescu, tearing up just slightly as the weight of her achievement sunk in. "A couple of months after I won the Orange Bowl (in 2015), I really believed that I could be at this stage. Since then, honestly I've been visualizing it almost every single day."

"I've really strived to be like her," said Andreescu of Williams, "and who knows, maybe I can be even better."

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