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Andreescu, Williams set up dream final in Toronto

Karthik Swaminathan

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Bianca Andreescu won her first straight-set match at the Rogers Cup beating Sofia Kenin of USA in the semifinals at the Aviva Centre in Toronto, Ontario. Photos: Tennis Canada

Canada couldn’t have asked for a better finale as one of their best talents prepares to square off against one of the greatest athletes ever to have held a racquet

Toronto: Its almost two months to the date since Toronto Raptors won the NBA title for the first time. They were up against Golden State Warriors, a unit that boasted some of the greatest names to have slam-dunked, and not many gave them a chance. After all, it is the Americans that have dominated the arena while Canadians have played mute spectators.

And speaking of Americans, there’s this racquet-wielding lady who requires no introduction. Over two decades, she has simply gone from strength to strength and shouldered the sport (the last American man to win a Grand Slam title was way back in 2003) besides encouraging a generation of athletes. Serena Jameka Williams. The name says it all.

Canada, though, has been relatively quiet but their current crop of youngsters has the country dreaming and rightly so. With the likes of doubles specialist Daniel Nestor long retired, Eugenie Bouchard flattering to deceive, and Milos Raonic and Vasek Pospisil nearing 30, the country’s search for a top tennis star seems to have been infused with fresh energy, courtesy 20-year-old Denis Shapovalov, and 19-year-olds Bianca Andreescu and Félix Auger-Aliassime. And of those three, it is Andreescu that has reaped the best of results this year, despite an injury layoff.

Yesterday, Andreescu was the first Canadian woman in 50 years to reach the semi-finals here at Rogers Cup. Today, she’s the first to reach the final in five decades.

The Mississauga native accomplished this historic feat by upending 20-year-old American Sofia Kenin 6–4, 7–6 (5). It was her first straight sets victory of the tournament and she will now face three-time champion Serena Williams on Sunday in what will be the pair’s first meeting.

Serena Williams fought back against an inspired Marie Bouzkova to reach her fifth Rogers Cup final

“For sure there’s some pressure, but I have nothing to lose, really… I didn’t expect to be in the Rogers Cup final, but I’m just — … I’m just going to try to stay in the present moment,” said the 19-year-old.

Andreescu is the first Canadian to reach the Rogers Cup final since 1969—when Canadians Faye Urban and Vicky Berner played in the final. The Canadian teen has had a year to remember. Not only did she win Indian Wells at the start of the year, she has also won 26 of 30 matches thus far this season. Her latest victory marks her 23rd win on hard courts; matching World No. 3 Karolina Pliskova for the most on the WTA Tour.

Serena Looks to Capture Fourth Rogers Cup Title
The 23-time Grand Slam champion came from behind to defeat Czech qualifier Marie Bouzkova 1–6, 6–3, 6–3 to advance to her fifth career final in Canada (from nine appearances) and attempt to match Chris Evert and Monica Seles for the most Rogers Cup titles in the Open Era (4).

History seems to be on her side when she faces Andreescu. Serena, the World No. 9, has only lost one final here and that seems a lifetime ago, in her Rogers Cup debut (2000), when she fell to Martina Hingis. However, her young adversary is yet to lose to a top-10 player this season.

Popcorn at the ready!

“Yeah, you know, my mind wanders off a lot. At one point I was thinking about my bra.” Let’s just say even the most accomplished woman’s tennis player isn’t always dialled in shot-for-shot.

Women’s Singles – Semifinals
[8] S. Williams (USA) d [Q] M. Bouzkova (CZE) 1-6, 6-3, 6-3
B. Andreescu (CAN) d S. Kenin (USA) 6-4, 7-6(5)

Karthik Swaminathan is a burgeoning sports analyst, his views on top-tier tennis and cricket events, including Grand Slams and the World Cup, have been featured on live television. Karthik has also been published on leading magazines and web portals such as Wisden, Golf Digest and Sports Illustrated. His other interests include astronomy, darts and anything tech.