Bianca's wild ride: 5 memorable Andreescu moments in 2019
Bianca Andreescu, of Canada, reacts after defeating Belinda Bencic, of Switzerland, during the semifinals of the U.S. Open tennis championships Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)
The Canadian Press
Published Saturday, September 7, 2019 9:18AM EDT
It has been a remarkable year for Bianca Andreescu.
After starting 2019 ranked 178th in the world, the rising Canadian tennis star will leap into the top 10 following the biggest match of her career -- a Saturday showdown against American legend Serena Williams in the U.S. Open women's final in New York.
For the 19-year-old Andreescu, the rapid journey to the elite class of the sport has featured memorable scenes around the world.
Here's a look at five standout Andreescu moments from 2019:
BIG COMEBACK IN BIG APPLE
Trailing 5-2 and down two breaks in the second set against Belinda Bencic in the U.S. Open semifinals on Thursday night, Andreescu appeared to be headed to a third and final set.
But in a stunning turnaround, Andreescu won the next five games, finishing it with a break against her Swiss opponent.
It was the second straight match in which Andreescu staged a rally. She fought back from a set down against Elise Mertens in the quarterfinals.
"Whenever my back is against the wall, I think I'm just extra focused in those moments," Andreescu said. "I remember I told myself at 5-2 that I didn't want to go to three sets. So I think just that switched my mindset."
After missing the better part of four months with a shoulder injury, Andreescu made her return at home at the Rogers Cup in Toronto last month.
Andreescu won four three-set matches in a row before knocking off young American Sofia Kenin in a tight two-setter, setting up a showdown against Williams.
But just 19 minutes into the match, a tearful Williams retired with a back injury. When Andreescu realized what was happening, she went over to Williams' bench, took a knee and started consoling the American star.
Williams was touched, calling Andreescu a "great sportswoman" and an "old soul."
"I started tearing up because she was tearing up. It's because I know how she feels," Andreescu said. "Injuries really, really suck."
"I WANT THIS SO BAD"
Many consider the annual WTA Tour event in Indian Wells, Calif., the biggest tournament of the year outside the Grand Slams, so Andreescu raised many eyebrows when she captured the BNP Paribas Open in March.
Andreescu downed five seeded players en route to the title, finishing her run with a three-set win over three-time Grand Slam champion Angelique Kerber.
One of the more dramatic scenes came when coach Sylvain Bruneau came to visit Andreescu during a timeout in the third set.
The ailing Canadian teenager essentially let out a battle cry -- "I want this so bad!" -- during her on-court meeting with the coach. Andreescu won four of the next five games to complete a 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 win.
"When Bianca said that, I knew there was a door for me to try to ignite something in her because I know that she's a tremendous fighter," Bruneau said. "I knew it was important for me to try to help her to the finish line."
Less than a week after her win over Kerber in the Indian Wells final, Andreescu and the German found themselves on opposite sides of the net again in the third round of the Miami Open.
Andreescu, who called the trainer several times to look at her shoulder, posted another three-set win and Kerber wasn't happy afterward. They had a quick handshake at the net and Kerber muttered "Biggest drama queen ever."
Kerber changed her tune the next day on Twitter, congratulating Andreescu on winning a tough battle.
Andreescu retired during her next match with a shoulder injury and played just one match in the time between Miami and the Rogers Cup.
Andreescu was anything but a household name in the final week of 2018 when she entered the qualifying rounds at the season-opening ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand.
The Canadian won three matches to get into the main draw before beating former world No. 1 players Caroline Wozniacki and Venus Williams on back-to-back days.
It was the first time Andreescu really generated any true buzz at home, with Canadians waking up to news of the upsets because of the time difference.
Andreescu went all the way to the final before losing to No. 2 seed Julia Goerges of Germany in three sets.
It was one of just four losses Andreescu had suffered this year in WTA Tour-level events heading into the U.S. Open final.