New York: Canadian teenager Bianca Andreescu will play 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams for the US Open title after a tense 7-6 (7/3), 7-5 win over Belinda Bencic in the semi-final.
The 19-year-old Andreescu is just the second women’s Grand Slam finalist from Canada — after Eugenie Bouchard at Wimbledon in 2014 — and will bid to become the first teen Grand Slam champion since Maria Sharapova won at Flushing Meadows in 2006.
“It’s just surreal. I really don’t know what to say. It’s a dream come true playing Serena in the finals of the US open. It’s crazy, it’s crazy,” Andreescu said. “I think it’s just all the hard work I’ve put in through the years. If someone told me a year ago I would be in the US Open final this year, I’d tell them they were crazy.”
Andreescu, in her US Open main draw debut, saved a set point in the opening set against fellow first-time Grand Slam semi-finalist Bencic, the 13th seed from Switzerland, before edging the tie-break. She trailed by a double break at 5-2 in the second set but reeled off the final five games to set up a rematch of last month’s Toronto final against the 37-year-old Williams, who retired from that clash with a back injury.
Meanwhile, Elina Svitolina has lifted her game to reach the semi-finals of the past two Grand Slam tournaments, but lopsided losses in both have left the Ukrainian standout searching for answers.
Serena Williams, chasing her 24th Grand Slam title to match Margaret Court’s all-time record, routed Svitolina 6-3, 6-1 on Thursday to reach Saturday’s championship match. That followed a 6 -1, 6-3 drubbing at Wimbledon by eventual champion Simona Halep and together they have left Svitolina of two minds about her Slam breakthroughs. “For sure last two Slams been good for me. I’m very happy the way I could handle the tough moments,” she said. “Unfortunately it’s both times finished really one-sided, which I have to analyze. I have to sit down with my coach, I have to work a lot mentally on how I have to handle those kinds of matches. That’s where you have to really step up your game.”
A week shy of her 25th birthday, Svitolina will rise to third in the world rankings on Monday, matching her career-high. But seeing Williams impose her will upon her gave Svitolina a good look at the level it will take to become a Grand Slam champion. “I think, generally, I have to improve my level, when I’m not playing unbelievable because every day you cannot play unbelievable,” Svitolina said.
“My middle level, where I have to just improve everything from the baseline, my shots, my decisions as well, my serve — that’s what we’re going to try and do. It also comes from experience. You have to see where you are with your level. These kind of matches definitely show you big-time.”
Svitolina tested Williams early, but failed to convert three break points in the opening game and three more in the fifth. “You are playing in front of the best tennis player in the world,” Svitolina said. “If you don’t take it, she just grabs it and there’s no chance to take it back.”
Svitolina is nursing a knee strain as she prepares to leave for China to continue her campaign, if her health allows. “I have a flight on Saturday to go to Zhengzhou. I’m going to play my match on Tuesday or Wednesday. I have no time for preparation,” she said.
“I’m going to recover and see how it goes because been little bit having some issues with my knee, which again I don’t want to go back into what was in the summer, which is tough. I will see how it goes, my health. I’m now going to play few tournaments in China. They’re very important.”