Wednesday, March 13, 2019 - Elina Svitolina reacts to winning her quarterfinal match at the BNP Paribas Open in Stadium 1 at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California. (Jared Wickerham/BNP Paribas Open)
Friday afternoon in the desert, an unexpected semifinal clash will decide one of two spots in the 2019 BNP Paribas Open final. On one side of the net, Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina will take the court after surviving a myriad of thrilling 3-set contests. Staring back at her will be 18-year-old phenom Bianca Andreescu, who has put the entire women’s tennis world on notice with a stunning desert run.
In a matchup that very few could have predicted, an intriguing clash of styles, will greet thousands of fans in attendance in Tennis Paradise.
For Elina Svitolina, the Ukrainian No. 1, nothing has come easy in her run to the semifinals. She’s reached a third and final set in all but one of her victories, showcasing a resilience and grit that’s befitting of the world No. 6. She’s traversed a difficult road; downing Sofia Kenin, Daria Gavrilova, Ashleigh Barty and Marketa Vondrousova throughout the week.
While she surely would have preferred an easier journey, the 13-time WTA singles champion points to the benefits of overcoming consistent adversity throughout her tournament.
“I have to work really hard to go through these kinds of matches and each match I have to bring my best game and best physical conditions,” assessed Svitolina after her quarterfinal victory over Vondrousova. “I have to really push myself, but I know I’m ready to do this. We have been training for these kinds of tournaments and moments.”
The Ukrainian will need to channel every bit of that training if she hopes to reach the finals, as her opponent is putting together a tournament for the ages. 18-year-old Canadian Bianca Andreescu has used her wild card entrance into the BNP Paribas Open as a springboard into the WTA’s elite.
Entering the tournament ranked No. 60, Andreescu has overthrown a slew of higher-seeded opponents including Dominika Cibulkova, Wang Qiang and Garbine Muguruza. While her first two victories were impressive, her 52 minute 6-0, 6-1 dismissal of Muguruza is what truly put the remaining competitors on notice. Andreescu played flawless tennis, toggling between aggressive groundstrokes and timely volleys at the net.
Although her sub top-50 ranking is cause for flying under the radar, those who have been paying close attention to the Canadian will know she’s been rapidly ascending since the start of the season. Andreescu began 2019 by winning seven straight matches to reach the final in Auckland, followed by a Challenger title at the Oracle Challenger Series Newport Beach and a run to the Mexican Open semis.
While Friday’s semifinal will shine an enormous spotlight on the rising star; Andreescu has proven that she can handle anything that comes her way. Svitolina will provide undoubtedly her most difficult challenge yet, with a chance to reach the finals in Indian Wells at stake.
Will Andreescu continue to triumph over tennis’ elite, or will the accomplished Ukrainian halt the hype?