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Battling Bianca Andreescu Makes History As Most Unlikely Of BNP Paribas Open Tennis Champs

Bianca Andreescu of Canada poses with the trophy after winning against Angelique Kerber of Germany during the Finals at the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California, USA, 17 March 2019. EPA-EFE/JOHN G MABANGLO
Bianca Andreescu of Canada poses with the trophy after winning against Angelique Kerber of Germany during the Finals at the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California, USA, 17 March 2019. EPA-EFE/JOHN G MABANGLO

 

 

By: Thomas Cluck

 

From desolation, despair, dry, and death sprouts new life, spring, new hope, an oasis like the one the best tennis players in the world have graced for the last fortnight in the desert.

 

And in 2019, from one of the most unlikely and overlooked lines in the women’s draw sprouted the newest, brightest star on the WTA, 18 year-old Canadian-Romanian Bianca Andreescu springing back into new life in a grueling, burning final set to recover from a break deficit and hold off veteran German and three-time Grand Slam champion Angelique Kerber to turn supernova and reign as the newest BNP Paribas Open champion.

 

Amidst one of the best backdrops in all the sport in a place dubbed Tennis Paradise, a true oasis in the desert, Andreescu capped her meteoric rise to the top of women’s tennis in 2019, ascending from outside the top 300 to become the newest member of the WTA top 30, claiming the biggest title of her very young career, and making history as the first wildcard in tournament history to ever do so.

 

Throughout an up-and-down, churning and tribulating two weeks in the California desert in Indian Wells, Andreescu showed the world the heart of a lion and the touch of a butterfly, the passion and emotion of a teenager and the maturity and toughness of a steely veteran. And even after dispatching four seeded players en route to the final and battling past argubaly the toughest out in women’s tennis these days, many still doubted her.

 

The 18 year-old Ontario-native turned Romanian turned Canadia again mustered all the experiences and lessons from her run to the final to ensure a runners-up trophy wasn’t in her future, combining a deftly touch and powerful forehand, a laser-focused game-plan and battling spirit and passion, and a relentless desire to win and a wilting, cramping body ready to give out to extract every last ounce of effort and will to topple the rock-solid Kerber 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 in over two and a half hours on a scorching championship Sunday inside Stadium 1.

 

The daughter of immigrants from Romania who ventured to Canada and took a chance on a land of new opportunity and a glimmer of hope, Andreescu plays with the relentless desire and passion her parents brought with them as they immigrated to their current home, aiming to make enough in tennis to one day allow for her parents to travel again with her.

 

Bianca Andreescu of Canada in action against Angelique Kerber of Germany during the Finals at the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California, USA, 17 March 2019.  EPA-EFE/JOHN G MABANGLO

Bianca Andreescu of Canada in action against Angelique Kerber of Germany during the Finals at the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California, USA, 17 March 2019. EPA-EFE/JOHN G MABANGLO

Andreescu’s journey through the 2019 BNP Paribas Open was anything but ordinary and full of challenges and occasional glimmers of hope, storming back against Romanian veteran Irinia-Camelia Begu to win 6-7, 6-3, 6-3. Following commanding straight-sets victories over 32nd seed Dominika Cibulkova, Stefanie Voegele, and 18th seed Wang Qiang, the fearless teen pitched a near perfect game in a virtual shutout of two-time major winner Garbine Muguruza, dominating the Spaniard 6-0, 6-1.

 

That trademark battling spirit had to be summoned once again in fending off the unstoppable Svitolina and Kerber defenses, out-grinding two of the most tough and resilient players on tour to claim the crown in the Coachella Valley, showing her all-court versatility and variety can go toe-to-toe with any of the game’s greats regardless of style.

 

Perhaps the teenager’s own words summarize her scintillating, superb, and supremely sweet fortnight in the desert better than anyone else can. In her final on-court coaching timeout with coach Sylvain Bruneau, the 18 year-old said what so many have thought but so few admit. She wanted it so bad, but she was so tired. But she repeated, she wanted it so bad.

 

Andreescu didn’t just want it so bad in that third and final set of the championship match against Kerber, nor just in these two weeks in Indian Wells. The Canadian’s success hasn’t just been a commitment to being better in 2019. Andreescu’s relentless drive and youthful energy combined with steely maturity have vaulted her to instant tennis stardom, a new national celebrity in Canada and one of the freshest faces in women’s tennis.

 

To get there took her wanting it so bad. To stay there will take doing that while she is tired under the burden of expectation and stardom. Luckily for Bianca Andreescu, these two weeks in the desert show she’s got more than enough to do that.

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