Neena Channan is a journalist, photographer and correspondent for Jornal de Toronto at the Rogers Cup Toronto 2019
WOW! She’s done what no other Canadian woman has done in 50 years. This past Sunday (August 11) she won the Rogers Cup. She is Bianca Andreescu.
What a tournament this was for her. Bianca arrived at the Rogers Cup tournament ranked 27th in the WTA (Women’s Tennis Association). She finished the tournament having moved up to 14th position! Incredible!
She started the tournament having drawn Eugenie Bouchard, also of Canada, as her opponent. A tough battle with Bianca winning in 3 sets (4-6, 6-1, 6-4). For her second round, Bianca faced Daria Kastakina of Russia. Another tough match that also went into 3 sets with Bianca coming out ahead (5-7, 6-2, 7-5). For the third round, Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands again took Bianca to 3 sets with Bianca again coming out on top (6-1, 6-7,6-4). Now into the quarter finals, Bianca faced Karolina Pliskova of Czech Republic. What seemed to start out as an easier match ended up being the 4th match for Bianca in this tournament that required the 3rd set. Again, Bianca was up for the challenge and prevailed over Karolina 6-0, 2-6, 6-4. At this point Bianca became the first Canadian woman in 40 years to be in the semi-final at Rogers Cup. In the semi-final, she faced Sofia Kenin of the USA. Although this match did not need to go to a third set, Sofia did not make this an easy win. It still required a tie breaker in the second set with Bianca taking it 6-4, 7-6. This was an incredible journey for Bianca. She was now a finalist – the first Canadian finalist in 50 years and she would be facing the American powerhouse, the Queen of tennis – Serena Williams.
Sunday dawned as a beautiful sunny day. Serena and Bianca took to the courts and the crowd was energized. The cheers for both players as they entered the stadium were loud and excited. Canadian flags visible all over the place. For this young Canadian playing in her hometown, the cheers were ever so slightly louder. Serena served up 2 aces in the match against 0 from Bianca. Both players giving it their all. However, at the end of the 4th set with Bianca leading 3-1, Serena spoke with the umpire and sat down. Confused Bianca was initially unaware that Serena had just withdrawn from the tournament due to injury. On being informed of Serena’s withdrawal and that she had now by default just won the tournament, this wise beyond her years player first went to Serena to console her and to give her a hug exchanging words of sympathy. Only then did she step onto the court and acknowledge her win and thank everyone. In the words of another famous tennis star, Billie Jean King, Bianca has “a level of maturity well beyond her years”.
She’s only 19 years old. Earlier this year she won at Indian Wells (California) but has been plagued by injury for a good part of the year. Even during the Rogers Cup tournament, she suffered from a groin injury. She has chosen to skip the Cincinnati Masters to allow her body time to heal. Now she is focused on New York and the US Open. We can’t wait to see what else this young Canadian has in store and what heights she will achieve.