By Ros Satar at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells
- Bianca Andreescu [WC] def. Elina Svitolina  6-3 2-6 6-4
INDIAN WELLS, CALIFORNIA USA – Creative visualisation must be working as Bianca Andreescu booked her spot in the BNP Paribas Open final, edging past No. 6 seed Elina Svitolina.
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Bianca Andreescu [WC] def. Elina Svitolina  6-3 2-6 6-4
In what has already been an outstanding debut at the BNP Paribas Open for Bianca Andreescu, a breakthrough year kept on delivering for the Canadian teenager, as she battled through cramp and all the experience over the other side of the net from No. 6 seed Elina Svitolina.
The start could not have been more of a contrast – Svitolina leapt ahead with decisive play to a 3-0 lead, and for a moment it looked as though the Canadian had run out of steam, but she slowly clawed her way into the match, before taking off at a tit to reel off six games in a row to take the first set.
In fact, she made it seven in a row, breaking Svitolina in the opening game of the second set before the more experienced Ukrainian stopped the rot, breaking twice and taking the second set by the scruff of the neck. Jumping out to a 4-1 lead, she kept Andreescu at bay, before breaking once more to take the second set.
The decider started better for the teen with a break of the Svitolina serve at the start of the set once more, and the pair exchanged a brace of breaks, enough to keep her nose out in front. Perhaps nerves began to tell as she struggled to try and break for the match and dealing with cramp and the inevitable nerves as she tried to close it out, finally taking it on a fourth match point.
Svitolina, who has been struggling with a knee injury since Dubai came into press with an ice-pack, praised Andreescu in a match with very small margins.
She told reporters: “She’s [an] all-around player. She plays well. Today, you know, she took her chance. It’s a good, I think, sign that she’s playing great tennis. And, yeah, she definitely can be the top of the women’s tennis and be one of the top players.
“Of course, she will need to play lots of tournaments, lots of matches, but at the moment, you know, she’s really, really good player. Yeah, hopefully I will play more, many more matches against her and hopefully in the future.”
Svitolina will most likely get a scan again before Miami as the problem has not seemed to improve – and given that movement is such a key part f her game, she may be better skipping Miami ahead of a clay court season she is expected to do well in.
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Back to Andreescu though – the engaging teen admitted she was still shaking with adrenalin after reaching the biggest final of her career so far. She described her emotions in the final stages of the match.
“This match had a little bit of up and downs. I started a bit slow and then I picked it up after 3-Love, thank God. Svitolina took control of the second set. I started missing more. Then in the third set I kept my composure, at least tried to. I pumped myself up.
“I went for my shots. I think crucial game was when I was down 40-Love on my serve, I was really, really happy I got that game. Then again, at 5-4, I was down 40-15, as well. It was so many emotions going through my head. I had I think four or five match points. So, it was a crazy match. It was a roller coaster. I’m really happy I pulled through.
“I think the cramping was because I was so stressed out with everything. But I have had many moments like this in the past, playing challenger events, juniors. So, I had a good feel of how to deal with it. I just — 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.”
This time last year we were marvelling at Naomi Osaka and Daria Kasatkina shining a light on the talent that is coming up through the ranks of the WTA – so could this be the same kind of launch-pad for the Canadian teen?
“I think so. This is my premier event, and I’m in the final. So, it’s definitely a starting point.”
Andreescu will play Angelique Kerber in the final on Sunday.
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