BNP Paribas Open: Andreescu stuns Svitolina to head to title match
Bianca Andreescu proved that she belongs in the BNP Paribas Open Final. Despite an immense amount of fatigue, the young Canadian came through to win a tight three-setter against Elina Svitolina 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 on Stadium One at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden Friday night. The victory gave the 18-year-old a humungous advance to the biggest final of her young career.
This was their first meeting and in a huge semifinal that both worked hard to get to, the match would be heavily serious for the Ukrainian to control. The last two matches extended into three sets where they combined for five hours on court. With her game at a higher level than the young Canadian, the 24-year-old eyed to quickly be in form and take over the match. While being underestimated, Andreescu hasn’t yet faced anyone who played at their best. With Svitolina in her crosshairs, the 18-year-old looked to pull off a full court press and continue her odyssey.
Nerves got the best of her opening serve as she committed errors to give Svitolina the break. The 24-year-old contained a hold of serve before breaking the Canadian to gain a comfortable 3-0 stance. Andreescu saw the trouble that she was in and blasted out a triple break opportunity in the fourth. The Ukrainian saved one but couldn’t force deuce as her grip of the match lessened.
Canadian started showing comfort on serve that allowed her to secure a service hold in the fifth. With two consecutive wins under her belt, Andreescu went for a third to earn a double break and level the score. She clearly had the momentum taking a fourth straight which led the world number six to take a chat with her coach Andrew Bettles. The need to gain back control was the main subject of his conversation and how to attack Andreescu’s forehand to gain back control while the opportunity was there.
The chances to counter didn’t come as Andreescu got creative on her ball placement which put her ahead in the eighth. Svitolina rallied to deuce where a drawn error from the teen opened the door but was slammed shut by a double fault. A second straight gave Andreescu the AD point which she won on a crosscourt winner.
With five straight and Svitolina running out of time, Andreescu served for the set with a full shutout to sweep through the set in 32 minutes. Despite not having a strong serve, the ten winners that she had did a number on the sixth seed who only had two and suffered on the first winning just 33 percent from it.
When it looked as if Svitolina would be able to turn things around, Andreescu came in to ruin it with a serious break that made it seven straight games. The teen’s winning streak finally came to a halt as the world number six found a way to break back and get on track. Doing so was not an easy task as she had a two-point buffer but made bad shots to get Andreescu to deuce. A missed opportunity for the 18-year-old allowed the Ukrainian to hold serve and be ahead for the first time since the third game of the previous set.
Andreescu wanted to get even in more ways than one but her efforts were a challenge on serve in the fourth where Svitolina was determined to win. After two long breaks of deuce, it was the 24-year-old with another break to lead 3-1.
The Canadian tried to go for a break back but was unsuccessful as the sixth seed found her mark and slammed a crosscourt winner to widen the gap further. They both held serve through two games until Svitolina went for the set in the seventh that was challenged by Andreescu to hold. They went to deuce briefly before an error from the Canadian secured a deciding set for the Ukrainian to play after 41 minutes.
Svitolina had improved on the serve scoring nearly 70 percent which beat down Andreescu’s down to 33 as she racked up 18 unforced errors which took a toll on her second serve at 42 percent success. With that part of the match going her way, the Ukrainian wanted more but Andreescu was there to make it tough. She forced Svitolina to play deuce where drawn errors gave the 18-year-old the early break.
A consolidation of the hold made it 2-0 for the Canadian but gaining a third was out of the question as Svitolina played hard for the hold and had help from Andreescu’s errors. The 18-year-old had trouble again on serve but despite the pain she was feeling came out with the hold to recapitalize the two-game buffer. A serve to love was Svitolina’s first of the match which is what Bettles told her to keep up the energy and rip the forehand.
Andreescu’s coach Sylvain Bruneau tried to keep the 18-year-old confident by telling her that she was the better one out there. During the sixth, it was clear that Svitolina was the better of the two as she racked up seven straight points before Andreescu got a point. She picked up a second but fatigue played a role in the teen losing strength against the Ukrainian who showed little in being tired.
Andreescu somehow broke the sixth seed to gain back the lead but it wasn’t safe as she had to hold to become a major threat. She erred too many times in the eighth but rallied every break point to force deuce and land another crosscourt winner to take a pivotal 5-3 stand. Svitolina faced elimination and served the ninth gaining a 40-0 run before erring twice.
A critical error got Andreescu to deuce opening the door for match point attempts. She got it on a line drive but lost it on a shot just long of the baseline. It was the only one she’d see in the game as Andreescu erred three times to give Svitolina the win. It was up to the 18-year-old to get it done on her own and went to deuce with the 24-year-old after coming back from 15-40. Despite losing two more match points, a fourth one came that ended a tense rally with a victory as Svitolina hit one more into the net ending the match in 2 hours and 12 minutes.
“This is so incredible,” Andreescu said to Andrew Krasny after the match. “This past week has been a dream come true.” She thanked the fans and a number of people close to her as she had the stage to show her gratitude. She had 36 winners and 57 unforced errors that were truly brought out by Svitolina who pulled out all the stops in her defeat.
With a massive victory in her career, she will no await her opponent on Sunday as Belinda Bencic and Angelique Kerber fight for the right to go for the title.