When Bianca Andreescu arrived in the desert this past March, she did so with very little fanfare. As an 18-year-old wild card recipient with only one minor title to her name, the expectations were low for the Canadian with a big personality and an even bigger game.
It’s funny how quickly things can change.
After two stunning weeks at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, the entire tennis world knew her name, as she ripped through a loaded draw and became the first-ever female wild card to hoist the BNP Paribas Open trophy. Six months later, after an unprecedented run to the US Open title, the whole world knows her name.
It’s clear that there something magical in the desert air, as the past two female champions to capture the title in Indian Wells have gone on to cement their status as superstars with a US Open victory in New York later in the year – Naomi Osaka in 2018, and now the Canadian teenager Andreescu in 2019.
Absolutely epic! 😍
Something about that desert magic 🌴 🏆 https://t.co/B8e6BhhxbH
— BNP Paribas Open (@BNPPARIBASOPEN) September 7, 2019
(And let’s not forget three-time champion Rafael Nadal, who captured his fourth US Open title on Sunday, making it an astounding 19 Grand Slam titles for the Spaniard.)
With the final Grand Slam of 2019 now in the books, the next time we will see professional tennis in North America will be at the BNP Paribas Open next March. As we prepare to welcome fans and players to Tennis Paradise, a number of up-and-coming stars will be looking to follow in the footsteps of Andreescu and Osaka and make their own mark in the desert.
But for now, let’s take a look back at a whirlwind year for our 2019 champion Andreescu, who upon waking this morning finds herself as the No. 5 ranked women’s player in the world – a far cry from the No. 178 where she began the year.
Perhaps nothing illustrates how far Andreescu has come better than the fact that entered her first tournament of the year – Auckland – via qualifying. But she burst onto the scene in a big way, defeating four top-ten seeds en route to her first main draw final, where she lost to Julia Goerges. But it was enough to announce to the tennis world that she was a force to be reckoned with. After advancing through qualifying to the main draw of the Australian Open, Andreescu lost in the second round and returned to North America to compete in the WTA 125K Series event in Newport Beach, California. There, Andreescu defeated fellow Canadian Eugenie Bouchard in a highly anticipated match-up en route to winning her first-ever WTA title. From there, she was off. Andreescu reached the finals in Acapulco the next week before accepting a wild card into the main draw at Indian Wells, and the rest, as they say, is history.
The Canadian entered the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on a hot streak, and she didn’t cool down. On her way to the title, Andreescu collected upset victories over No. 35 Dominika Cibulkova, No. 20 Garbine Muguruza, No. 18 Qiang Wang , No. 6 Elina Svitolina and No. 8 Angelique Kerber. She became the first-ever female wild card recipient to win the title at Indian Wells, and the biggest title of her career catapulted her into the Top 25 of the WTA rankings. She seemed unstoppable, perhaps even poised for a run at the difficult Sunshine Double, as Andreescu defeated Kerber for a second time in two weeks in the third round at Miami.
But then, the wheels fell off. Andreescu was forced to retire in the fourth round at Miami due to a right shoulder injury. She did not play again until Roland Garros in late May, where she was once again unable to finish a match, retiring in the second round against American Sofia Kenin. Citing the need for rest and rehabilitation of the shoulder, Andreescu’s team made the decision to forego the grass court season entirely. Choosing to rest both body and mind, Andreescu set her sights on a return during the late summer hard court swing in North America – as luck would have it, at the Rogers Cup in Toronto.
Not one to settle for a quiet re-entrance to the tennis scene, Andreescu once again made history, this time by becoming the first Canadian to win the Rogers Cup title in 50 years. But she wasn’t done yet. Just a year removed from a first-round loss in qualifying, Andreescu arrived in New York City for just her fourth appearance in the main draw of a Grand Slam event. When the final piece of confetti fell following the women’s final on Saturday, Andreescu was once again the last one standing, as she defeated Serena Williams 6-3, 7-5. In the process of denying Williams her record-setting 24th Grand Slam title, Andreescu made history of her own, having become the first Canadian in tennis history to claim a Grand Slam singles trophy.
Before we know it, Andreescu, Nadal, Osaka and more will be back in Tennis Paradise. Don’t miss your opportunity to witness the world-class players that annually descend upon the desert, as the action gets back underway at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden next March 9-22, 2020.
Tennis Paradise awaits – are you ready to experience it?