Bianca Andreescu has willed her way into Friday’s final eight at the Rogers Cup.
In her third dramatic three-set win in as many days, Canada’s 19-year-old rising WTA star upset world No. 5 Kiki Bertens 6-1, 6-7(7), 6-4 on Thursday to punch her ticket to the quarter-finals of her hometown tournament.
“She can do everything with the ball,” said Bertens, after facing Andreescu’s variety-packed game. “She made it tough today.”
Thursday’s victory gives Andreescu a perfect 5-0 record against top 10 players this season. On Friday, Canada’s world No. 27 will meet hard-serving Karolina Pliskova, the world No. 3 from the Czech Republic. Pliskova is in hot contention to move into the No. 1 spot in the WTA rankings.
Andreescu is the last Canadian standing in either the men’s or women’s singles draws at the Rogers Cup. She becomes the fifth Canadian female singles player since 1979 to make the quarters at the event. The others were Carling Bassett (1985), Helen Kelesi (1987), Patricia Hy (1992) and Aleksandra Wozniak (2012). The last Canadian to win the tournament was Faye Urban in 1969.
After the match, Andreescu didn’t sound as though the quarters would satisfy her.
“I would say my goals for the end of the year would have to be to break the top 10,” the teen said. “I really believe that I can do that – and play in the WTA Tour finals.”
Thursday marked Andreescu’s third game back following a lengthy break from play to rehab an injured shoulder. It was another fast turnaround for Andreescu, who beat Canadian Genie Bouchard on Tuesday night, then Russia’s Daria Kasatkina late Wednesday afternoon, both in three sets. Bertens came in much fresher, following a first-round bye and a breezy 6-2, 6-1 win over qualifier Francesca Di Lorenzo.
Bertens and Andreescu got just 2½ minutes into Thursday’s match when large rain drops began pelting the court. The rain delay lasted about an hour before play resumed. A light drizzle had them retreating to umbrellas again just briefly, but it quickly passed. The sun emerged, and humidity intensified. A warm wind began antagonizing the women as they served, and had flags and ropes clanging loudly off the stadium flagpoles.
Andreescu took it to the 27-year-old Dutch player in the first set, breaking her service twice and looking as though she was the older, more experienced player. The Canadian teen placed serves all over the court and kept Bertens guessing. She expertly constructed her points to move her opponent all around. She sliced. She zinged forehand winners. Perhaps most punishingly though, Andreescu surprised Bertens with soft drop shots every so often, which froze her in her tracks.
Bertens regrouped and flipped the script when the second set began, dominating the points as Andreescu made unforced errors. The Dutch won the first three games, and the Canadian looked uncomfortable and unhappy. Andreescu draped ice bags around her neck in the break.
An expertly landed drop shot from Andreescu marked a shift in momentum back toward the Canadian. She won three of the next four games, surviving seven break points to win her two service games.
Bertens took a 6-5 lead, and Andreescu answered back to force the tiebreak. The crowd chanted “Bianca” for the kid who was born in nearby Mississauga and resides now just 15 minutes from the stadium in Thornhill, where she’s slept in her own bed all week.
The two went point for point in a tense tiebreaker. Andreescu had a match point, which she failed to convert. Bertens was sharper, and she ended the 68-minute set with an overhead smash winner.
Going into the third set, the Canadian had plenty of reason to be confident. She’d won 10 of the 13 three-setters she’d played in 2019. Plus the last time she’d actually lost a match that wasn’t because of injury retirement was in Acapulco way back in February.
The Canadian emerged from a bathroom break, and jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the deciding set. Bertens won a game to get back in it, and Andreescu let out a loud, long frustrated scream that echoed around the stadium. The Dutch player then stormed back and won three more games.
Serving some big aces put Andreescu back in it, but it wouldn’t be easy to close out
Up 5-4, with Bertens serving, the Canadian failed to convert on three match points. On the fourth, Bertens double-faulted for a second time, finally making Andreescu the winner 3½ hours after the match began.
Friday will mark Andreescu’s first meeting with Pliskova.
“Andreescu, we’ve never played, not even practice,” said the Czech player after she advanced Thursday morning with a straight sets win over Annet Kontaveit. “I just saw her a little bit on TV. So it would be interesting – of course challenging – to play her here in Canada.”
If the hot-rolling Canadian can beat Pliskova on Friday, she would face either 29th-ranked Sofia Kenin of the United States or seventh-ranked Elina Svitolina of Ukraine – two players she has defeated this year. One reporter went so far in Thursday’s postmatch presser to ask Andreescu how it might feel to face Wimbledon champion and fellow Romanian Simona Halep in the Rogers Cup finals on Sunday.
The resilient player was also asked to explain how she repeatedly finds a way to bounce back and survive.
“Sometimes you’re not going to play your best tennis, so you just have to find a way with what you have that day,” Andreescu said. “I think that’s what I’ve been doing.”
In other early play Thursday, Kenin continued her stellar run at the tournament with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Ukrainian teenager Dayana Yastremska.
Kenin, ranked No. 29, had knocked off the top-ranked Ashleigh Barty on Tuesday to reach the third round. She will play 2017 Rogers Cup champ Elina Svitolina in the quarter-finals.
Svitolina, from Ukraine, defeated 2015 tournament winner Belinda Bencic of Switzerland 6-2, 6-4 in another rain-interrupted match on the grand stand.
Halep, the 2018 Rogers Cup winner, beat Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia 6-2, 6-1 later Thursday.
Also Thursday, American star Serena Williams took on Russian Ekaterina Alexandrova and Latvian Jelena Ostapenko played qualifier Marie Bouzkova of the Czech Republic.
No. 2 Naomi Osaka of Japan was slated for the late match against qualifier Iga Swiatek. Swiatek upset former No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki in three sets Wednesday night.
With a report from The Canadian Press