Bianca Andreescu’s breakthrough season reached yet another high note on Wednesday night as the Canadian ingenue came from behind to win 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 against Belgium’s Elise Mertens and become the first teenager in a decade to reach the US Open semi-finals.
The 19-year-old from Ontario overcame a dialled-in opponent and sweltering conditions on another muggy night inside Arthur Ashe Stadium to reach the last four at Flushing Meadows on her main-draw debut, joining Chris Evert, Pam Shriver and Venus Williams as the only women to do so.
This time a year ago Andreescu was ranked 208th in the world after a first-round loss in the US Open qualifying draw. But she has won 31 of 35 matches this year including 13 of 16 three-setters, capturing the prestigious Indian Wells title in the spring, becoming the first Canadian in five decades to win the Rogers Cup last month in Toronto and climbing to No 15 in the world rankings.
Now she is the first teen to reach the last four at Flushing Meadows since Caroline Wozniacki in 2009.
“This is honestly so crazy,” the 15th-seeded Andreescu said after tour-high 29th win on hard courts this year. “A year ago I was in the [US Open] qualifying round. I remember I was suffering from a back injury. Now what I’ve accomplished this year, I’m honestly speechless. I need someone to pinch me right now. Is this real life?”
The 25th-seeded Bertens, who had cruised into the quarter-finals without allowing more than three games in a set, was locked in from the jump and broke Andreescu in the fourth game of the opener before serving out the set in drama-free fashion as the Canadian struggled to suss out her timing.
But Andreescu, who became the first Canadian man or woman to play a US Open quarter-final since Patricia Hy-Boulais in 1992, showed the steely composure and taste for the fight that’s buoyed her through so many marathon matches all season, finding her range with the forehand and mixing in drop shots. She broke Bertens twice in the second to force a third, then improved her first-serve percentage to 73% in the decider.
When Andreescu closed the show with a backhand winner down the line on match point for her 12th straight three-set win after just over two hours, the highest ranked teenager on the tour covered her face in excitement during the on-court interview.
“Elise, she played really, really well so I just tried to stay as calm as possible,” Andreescu said. “I just told myself to stay calm and stick to the tactics, which I think really helped in the second and third set.”
Andreescu advances to Thursday’s semi-finals where she will face 13th-seeded Belinda Bencic, who came through earlier Wednesday with a straight-sets win over Donna Veki?.