Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press
The last two years has seen a change in women’s tennis. The sport that was dominated by Serena Williams has seen a slew of players emerge and win championships.
The game has grown incredibly competitive, with relatively unknown players emerging from the shadows to climb the ladder and win or contend in tournaments.
However, the BNP Paribas Open has taken it a step further. Bianca Andreescu, the 18-year-old Canadian, made it to the championship round as she defeated Elina Svitolina 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 in the semifinal round at Indian Wells, California.
Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press
Andreescu was ranked 60th as the tournament started, but she ran through higher seeded opponents including Dominika Cibulkova, Wang Qiang and Garbine Muguruza before her hard-fought victory over Svitolina.
The match was statistically even, and the only area where Andreescu was able to gain a key edge was in break points percentage. Andreescu won 50 percent of her break points (6 of 12), while Svitolina was successful 32 percent of the time (6 of 19).
There is no way any opponent should take Andreescu lightly at this point because she defeated Muguruza 6-0, 6-1
Andreescu wil play Angelique Kerber, who defeated Belinda Bencic 6-4, 6-2 in the other late-night semifinal.
“I knew I was playing a very tough player, and I had to be at my best to beat her,” Kerber said after the match to ESPN interviewer Mary Jo Fernandez. “I was trying to concentrate on every point and going for it when I had the chance.”
Those two will play in the championship match Sunday at 4 p.m. ET, and will be televised by ESPN2.
Kerber said she is looking forward to the final, but knows she is playing a dangerous opponent. “She came in as a wild card and she has beaten quite a few dangerous opponents. She is playing with nothing to lose, and it will be a challenge.”
While the women have gotten through the semifinal round, the men will play their semifinals Saturday (ABC, 3 p.m. ET).
The first semifinal features seventh-seeded Dominic Thiem meeting 13th-seeded Milos Raonic, and the second semi features one of the sport’s classic rivalries as fourth-seeded Roger Federer will meet No. 2 seed Rafael Nadal.
Both Federer and Nadal won their quarterfinal matches in straight sets. Federer had a relatively easy time as he defeated Hubert Hurkacz 6-4, 6-4 while Nadal got by Karen Khachanov 7-6 (7-2), 7-6 (7-2).
Federer and Nadal will meet for the 39th time in their legendary careers. Federer is hoping to win his sixth championship at Indian Wells, and he has to get by his old rival before he gets to the championship round.
Nadal was battling through right knee pain during his win over Khachanov. “My goal and my idea is to be ready for tomorrow,” Nadal said, per the Associated Press (h/t ESPN.com). “I cannot guarantee how I’m going to wake up tomorrow morning.”
Federer trails Nadal in their all-time rivalry by a 23-15 margin, but he has won five matches in a row against Nadal.
Raonic advanced to the semifinal round with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Miomir Kecmanovic, while Thiem won in a walkover against Gael Monfils. The French player could not compete as a result of an Achilles injury.
Raonic had 13 aces in his win over Kecmanovic, and he did not have a double fault. However, Raonic was not happy with his serving even though he won 88 percent of his first-service points.
“Even when I was hitting the spots, I wasn’t hitting them that well,” Raonic said, per the Associated Press (h/t ESPN.com). “I think that can get better.”