TORONTO- Bianca Andreescu is continuing to live her dream and, for the first time in 50 years, a Canadian woman is in the semifinals at the Rogers Cup. For Andreescu the path has not been entirely simple. Instead, the journey has been pervaded with uncertainty. After having won the first set of her quarterfinal against Karolina Pliskova to love, Andreescu looked to be in trouble when she needed a medical timeout to tend to an apparent groin injury in the second set.
But the 19-year-old is well aware already of what it is like to play through injury. In fact, she had only played one match in the last five months, with the Rogers Cup her first tournament since the French Open after a shoulder injury. But no matter the adversity, Andreescu raises her level of play against the top opponents. She rallied to claim a 6-0 2-6 6-4 win, her fourth consecutive three-set win, which serves as further proof of her fearlessness under pressure.
“It comes from deep within,” Andreescu said when asked about where her knack for never giving into adversity comes from. “I’ve been practicing a lot on trying to figure out what to do in these kind of circumstances.”
Andreescu grew up following the Rogers Cup
Not since 1969 when Faye Urban hoisted the Canadian Open trophy has a Canadian woman made the last four in Toronto or Montreal. Ranked #1 in Canada from 1967-1969, Urban also won the Canadian doubles title four years in a row (1965-1969). In the years that followed, the Canadian Open has transformed into a world-class event. It has a new title, the Rogers Cup, and has become a Premier 5 event on the WTA Tour, as well as a Masters 1000 on the ATP Tour.
In large part thanks to the revenues generated by this global event, Tennis Canada has been able to funnel resources into developing homegrown talent. When 11-year-old Andreescu and her family returned to Canada after a period living in her parent’s native Romania, she played tennis at the Ontario Racquet Club in Mississauga, Ontario. It was Tennis Canada who sought out Andreescu, realizing she had natural talent and with intense training, could become one of the best in the world.
While Andreescu began training at Tennis Canada’s National Training Program in Toronto, she also started attending the Rogers Cup as a spectator. She vividly remembers walking the grounds with her parents, experiencing that deep desire to emulate the players she grew up idolizing.
“The one that I remember clearly was when Belinda won against Serena. I remember telling myself, I want to be like that.
Andreescu Etched Into Canadian Tennis History
There were moments where Bianca Andreescu could have quit in her match against Pliskova. In the second set, the world #3 raised her game, converting two break points and winning 13 of 16 service points. And Andreescu was dealing with groin tightness after bending down to hit a shot.
“I got really low on this one ball she hit, and I felt my groin a little bit,” said Andreescu. “I felt it this morning too. It was a bit sore, but I think it got a little bit worse during the match.”
But fearlessness is the recipe for Andreescu’s success. In her first service game of the third set, Andreescu saved three break points before holding serve. It would prove decisive. Andreescu maintained her belief that regardless of the circumstance, no matter how great the adversity, she can beat the best players in the world.
“When I step out on the court, I’m fearless,” states Andreescu. “I show no mercy no matter who I play, and I think that’s showing a lot.”
After a match of this magnitude, Andreescu needed a “long ice bath,” that she was still shivering from during her post-match press conference. A quick turnaround has Andreescu, the youngest player to reach the semis of the Rogers Cup since 2001, playing American Sofia Kenin in the semifinals. The Canadian is inspiring young girls all across Canada, similarly to the stars who she grew up idolizing at the Rogers Cup. Urban has some company in the annals of tennis history at last.
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