Defeating No. 8 seed Angelique Kerber in the finals of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, California, 18-year old Bianca Andreescu, made history with a stunning upset, capturing a purse valued at $1,354,010 million US. Needing three sets to win, with scores of 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, she would capture all the points on her second serve, a key statistical factor.
Becoming the first female wildcard in the history of the tournament to emerge victorious, her road to the title also included a major upset of No. 6 seeded Elina Svitolina in the semis, punching her ticket to the finals.
Quickly showered with praise on social media, experiencing the thrill of being a viral sensation, it added lustre to a dream run for the teen phenom from Mississauga, Ontario. Such a remarkable outpouring of support on social media included tennis great Rod Laver declaring a star is born. Fellow Canadian Genie Bouchard also shared her congratulations, while Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau was equally jubilant in his support.
Just three years ago, at the tender age of 15, Andreescu was the third-ranked junior player in the world, foreshadowing the potential glories to come. Akin to Canadian golf phenom Brooke Henderson, who was also a global prodigy in her teens, both have made a seamless transition to success in the pros.
Such success also brought with it a humility and appreciation. A sore back in 2018 forced her to miss the Rogers Cup, a tennis event contested on Canadian soil. Suffering a pair of stress fractures in her foot at the tender age of 16, she worked diligently at improving her serve is a most unorthodox method.
Sitting in an office chair that had its back removed, Andreescu looked just as comfortable on the court displaying a captivating confidence. It also served as the foundation for a strong stamina while gaining the ability to employ a display of power from the baseline that disrupts opponents, quickly altering momentum in her favor.
Although there was a tinge of irony in the fact that Andreescu suffered some minor soreness in her back as she defeated Irina-Camelia Begu in the first round, the level of perseverance and character displayed not only resulted in her first career WTA Tour title, but the finest hour of her promising career.
The next challenge for Andreescu is to keep herself grounded. While her ability to bounce back from physical ailments, including pain in her right arm/shoulder in the third set versus Kerber, has provided her with both maturity and perspective, many teenage tennis stars struggle with the adjustment to star status, often resulting in a loss of motivation, overcome sometimes with lethargy.
Andreescu definitely has a strong role model to emulate. With her victory at the BNP Paribas Open, she became the youngest to achieve the feat since 1999, when Serena Williams captured the title, a springboard towards an outstanding career. In addition, the winner of the 2018 edition of the tournament was an unknown 20 year-old from Japan known as Naomi Osaka, who would add wins in the Australia and US Open to her trophy case.
Certainly, Andreescu holds the potential to imitate the early successes of the celebrated Williams and the nascent career of Osaka. Worth noting, she has managed to win an astounding 28-of-31 matches this season. Although she will not have wild-card status for the foreseeable future as her ranking in the WTA Tour is poised to leap to No. 24.