Pushing through her second three-set match in less than 24 hours, Bianca Andreescu dug deep and willed herself into the third round of the Rogers Cup.
The crowd at Toronto’s Aviva Centre got another taste of the Canadian teen’s never-say-die tennis, as she outlasted Russia’s Daria Kasatkina 5-7, 6-2, 7-5 in a match that lasted more than 2½ hours.
The 19-year-old rising WTA star advances to the next round of her hometown tournament, where she’ll face Dutch world No. 5 Kiki Bertens on Thursday in their first meeting.
Wednesday’s afternoon match forced a fast turnaround for Andreescu, who beat Montreal’s Eugenie Bouchard in a thrilling three-setter the night before – her first match in nine weeks after a layoff to rehab an injured shoulder.
The late-afternoon crowd wasn’t as large or as loud as the Tuesday night full house for the all-Canadian tilt. Conditions for Wednesday’s match were hot, sunny and humid.
Andreescu’s parents, Nicu and Maria, were in the crowd, under the shade of an umbrella. Effects of her late night against Bouchard were eased by the comforts of staying in her family home just 15 minutes away in Thornhill, Ont.
That right shoulder she rehabbed before the Rogers Cup now appears fine. However, the Canadian teen emerged Wednesday with both of her thighs wrapped in thick white medical tape. She said playing all those hard, flat shots she faced from Bouchard the night before had her playing low to the ground and caused her some groin tightness.
Andreescu had her ups and downs in the opening set against 22-year-old Kasatkina. Andreescu, the world No. 27, was sporting a 33-4 record in 2019, while facing a world No. 40 with just eight wins to her name this year. Nevertheless, it was a slug fest.
Kasatkina appeared to be confident coming off her upset of 13th-ranked Angelique Kerber the afternoon before, plus she’d had a few hours more recovery time than Andreescu got. The Russian successfully lured Andreescu back and forth across the court. She chased down much of what Andreescu threw over the net in some very long rallies. The Canadian shifted back and forth between dominant and weary moments, from crisp cross-court winners and deft drop shots to bloopers plunked into the net.
They traded breaks as fans hollered out for the hometown girl who shared her childhood between Romania and Mississauga. Handfuls of them were Romanian flag-waving fans who had just finished cheering Simona Halep to victory.
The frustration poured out of the Canadian at moments. She screamed at times. Once, she threw her racquet in anger. She lost the first set 7-5. For a second successive day, she’d have to fight back from a first-set loss.
Andreescu took a fast 3-1 lead in the second set, and was serving to pull ahead 4-1. Instead, Kasatkina charged back using one of Andreescu’s favourite tactics – loads of shot variety. The Russian broke the Canadian and inched closer in the set, 3-2.
“I told my coach, ‘Now I know how people feel when they play me,’ ” Andreescu said. “She likes to change the rhythm. I know players don’t like that.”
Suffering that break seemed to jolt Andreescu awake and toward a totally different level of aggressiveness. The Canadian won the next three games, fist-pumping throughout. She’d hit 11 winners in the set and snatched the second set 6-2, forcing a third.
In the break before the third set, Kasatkina called for her second on-court coach visit of the match. Andreescu took a bathroom break and tore all the tape off her legs.
The Canadian took a 3-1 lead, but it was far from easy. At one point, Kasatkina withstood five break points in a row before Andreescu broke her. The Russian appeared irritated with the whoops of support for the Canadian and broke right back. The teenager started to look tired, as though the stiffness from the previous night’s battle was setting in. That’s when Kasatkina stole back control and built a 5-3 lead.
Upset victories two days in a row would be huge for Kasatkina, and she looked laser focused on taking down this Canadian.
Andreescu said that, at 5-3, she was angered, so, “I put all my anger into my shots.”
Andreescu slowed – much as she had against Kerber late in the Indian Wells final. But as she had on the championship Sunday in California, the Canadian refused to give up. She charged back to win the next three games, at one point pushing Kasatkina to several break points until she finally broke.
The teen gutted through a 17-shot rally to close out the game and watched Kasatkina’s shot sail just wide to finish the match. Andreescu quietly pumped her fist to celebrate the victory.
No Canadian woman has earned a singles title at the Canadian Open since Faye Urban in 1969.
Several top players have already dropped in this tournament, easing the path for Andreescu to make a run. Seeded players to lose out in the first two rounds include Sloane Stephens, Madison Keys, Johanna Konta and world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty.
Halep, Naomi Osaka, Elina Svitolina, Belinda Bencic, and Karolina Pliskova are among the marquee names still alive in Toronto.