Canadian wildcard Bianca Andreescu became the youngest Indian Wells champion since Serena Williams on Sunday, beating Angelique Kerber in a three set thriller 6-4 3-6 6-4. From outside the top 150 at the start of the year, Andreescu is now inside the top 25 going into Miami.
The Canadian has showcased some great attacking tennis all fortnight and this match was no exception. She broke to begin the match and remained strong on serve through out the first set, not facing a single break point on her way to taking it. Andreescu has already played a lot of matches this season and it felt like a matter of when rather than if she would run out of gas.
Kerber did mount a comeback, eventually breaking for 3-1 after a couple of bad errors from the 18-year-old. A single break would be enough once more as a deciding set would be needed to crown the winner. With Andreescu serving first, she looked to have regained her composure with two solid holds. Once she was broken at 2-2 and then had a medical time out, it looked to be over. From 15-15 in the next game, she hit three straight winners including a delightful lob over the German.
More big hitting secured the break but it was going to be a race against time for the youngster, who was beginning to cramp as the match wore on. A failure convert three championship points on serve could have been fatal but she bounced right back, hitting a glorious winner to set up match point. A strong return could only be sent into the net by a Kerber backhand, sealing a momentous victory for Andreescu who became the first wildcard to win the tournament.
“It’s been a crazy ride, truly a Cinderella story. Naomi [Osaka] did this last year. And now to be able to have my name in front of so many amazing champions is — it means the world to me.” Andreescu said afterwards. While Osaka went on to win two slams in the following 12 months, it might be a few years too early for the Canadian but at this current rate – who knows?
There could be a repeat in the third round of the Miami Open, where the pair are projected to play each other. Andreescu will have to play in the first round with her top 32 ranking not applicable at the time of the draw.