Teen sensation Andreescu sets up Kerber final at Indian Wells - GulfToday

Teen sensation Andreescu sets up Kerber final at Indian Wells


Bianca Andreescu in action during her match at Indian Wells on Friday. Agence France-Presse

indian wells : Canadian sensation Bianca Andreescu toppled sixth-ranked Elina Svitolina 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 on Friday and will face Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber for the WTA title in Indian Wells.

Germany’s Kerber, ranked eighth in the world, ended Belinda Bencic’s 12-match winning streak with a 6-4, 6-2 victory to reach the final in the California desert for the first time in her third semi-final appearance.

Kerber won the last four games of the opening set and the last three games of the second to subdue Bencic, who was coming off her first WTA title in four years in Dubai.

The 22-year-old Swiss, whose career was disrupted by a string of back and wrist injuries, had beaten six top-10 players in her winning streak, including world number one and defending Indian Wells champion Naomi Osaka in the fourth round here.

But she couldn’t find a way past Kerber, who broke Bencic from 30-0 down in the final game of the opening set.

Kerber dropped her serve in the opening game of the second set, but broke Bencic twice to lead 3-1 before the Swiss clawed back another break.

But Kerber, taking full advantage of Bencic’s 27 unforced errors in the match, won the next three games, to clinch it.

“It’s always tough to play against Belinda,” Kerber said. “She played so great in the past few weeks.

“I was trying to focus only on my side of the court. I was trying to play concentrated, and going for it when I had the chance.

“I really enjoy the semi-finals here - it was already twice here, and I’m really happy to be in the final for the first time now.”

Kerber, 31, will be playing 18-year-old Andreescu for the first time.

“I’m really looking forward to a really tough battle. She’s here as a wild card, and she beat a lot of good players,” Kerber said. “She has nothing to lose, she enjoys her tennis and she’s a great player.”

Andreescu, ranked 60th in the world after starting the year at 152, continued a stellar run that included a quarter-final victory over former world number one Garbine Muguruza.

She’s the first wild card to reach the women’s final at Indian Wells.

“It’s incredible,” she beamed when told of the achievement.

“Another goal of mine was to make history and I just did.”

“I really need a moment to soak this all in. This is just so incredible,” an emotional Andreescu told the crowd.

“This past week has been a dream come true.”

Andreescu, who came through qualifying to reach the final at Auckland and made the semi-finals in Acapulco in February, had to dig deep to close it out against Svitolina, who saved on match point against her serve in the penultimate game to force Andreescu to serve it out.

It would take three more match points for a weary-looking Andreescu to succeed, when another baseline rally ended with Svitolina firing a forehand into the net.

“I really need a moment to soak all this in,” said an emotional Andreescu, who was battling cramp in the closing games.

“I think the cramping was because I was so stressed out with everything,” Andreescu said.

“But I have had many moments like this in the past, playing Challenger events, juniors. Breathing really helps for me, so I took a lot of deep breaths and I tried not to get mad at myself. It really worked.

“It was a roller coaster,” she said. “I’m really happy I pulled through.”

Rafael Nadal withstood the challenge of Russian Karen Khachanov to set up a blockbuster semi-final with Roger Federer at the ATP Indian Wells Masters Friday despite a flare-up of right knee trouble that required mid-match treatment.

World number two Nadal, the highest seed left in the draw after the early ouster of No. 1 Novak Djokovic, dominated both tiebreakers to beat the towering Russian 7-6 (7/2), 7-6 (7/2).

He booked a 39th career meeting with Federer, a five-time champion at Indian Wells who breezed past 67th-ranked Hubert Hurkacz of Poland 6-4, 6-4.

“Hopefully I will be ready for it,” said Nadal, who recovered an early break in the opening set and powered through the tiebreaker, but called for the trainer to have supportive tape applied below his right knee three games into the second.

“Of course my goal and my idea is to be ready for tomorrow,” he said.

Although he wasn’t moving as well, Nadal gained the first break of the second set to lead 3-2, but was immediately broken himself.

He saved a set point in a fierce 10th game that went to deuce three times before Nadal held to make it 5-5. He couldn’t convert a break chance in the 11th game as they went to another tiebreaker which the Spaniard again controlled.

“Well, I am used to play with some issues, so I just tried to be focused and to keep hold of the situation,” said Nadal who has battled knee tendinitis and other injuries throughout his career. “It’s one of these victories today that I’m really proud of.”

Khachanov, who peppered Nadal with 17 aces in the two-hour, 17-minute match, has now lost all six of his career meetings with the Spaniard.

Agence France-Presse