Wednesday, March 13, 2019 - Bianca Andreescu plays Garbine Muguruza in the quarterfinals of the BNP Paribas Open in Stadium 1 at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California. (Elise Sterck/BNP Paribas Open)
Bianca Andreescu says she shuns superstitions, her only good-luck allowance a Maple Leaf racquet dampener. She maintains a mental rolodex of keywords for mid-match troubleshooting. She dabbles in creative visualization meditation. She takes measured breaths on the court. She sports a coiled hair tie on her right bicep. She hits the cover off the ball.
Whatever she’s doing, it’s working. Just 18, the Canadian upstart has now collected eight Top-50 wins in 2019 alone, including upsets of No. 35 Dominika Cibulkova, No. 20 Garbine Muguruza and No. 18 Qiang Wang this week in Indian Wells, where the wildcard is into the first Premier Mandatory semifinal of her nascent career.
Andreescu’s rise has been so sudden that we’ve barely had time to get acquainted.
As a qualifier, the woman who models her game after Simona Halep reached the final of her very first event of the year, winning seven straight matches in Auckland (l. to Julia Goerges 2-6, 7-5, 6-1). Then came the Oracle Challenger Series title in Newport Beach, a pair of Fed Cup victories in the Netherlands, and a run to the Acapulco semis.
It’s been an amazing run.
“Amazing is an understatement,” said Andreescu, who resides in Toronto, but whose parents hail from Romania.
Perhaps most jarring was the world No. 60’s 6-0, 6-1, Round of 16 dismissal of the Spaniard Muguruza, a former No. 1 and two-time Grand Slam champion. Playing aggressively and mixing up her shots, Andreescu sprinted past one of the sport’s premier power players in a mere 52 minutes.
Credit the 5-foot-7 baseliner’s unbending self-belief, which is bolstered with each and every marquee scalp.
“Confidence is almost everything for a player,” said Andreescu, who is coached by Sylvain Bruneau. “If you trust your shots, if you trust your game, good things always happen.”
“For me, the sky’s the limit,” she added. “I believe that anything is possible.”
Having overcome a string of injuries, including back, foot, knee and groin issues, she’s clearly benefitting from a healthy 2019. She’s now 26-3 on the year, and eying another victory in the final four. One of just five teens in the WTA Tour’s Top 100, she’ll next face Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina, who battled back to defeat Czech Marketa Vondrousova, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4. She knows she’ll have her hands full against the world No. 6, but don’t expect her to come in lacking confidence. For now, she’s still riding high in the desert.
“I don’t think it’s going to be all butterflies and rainbows every day,” she said, “but it has been so far.”