‘Unbelievable’: Tennis world loses it
The tennis world has gone into meltdown as it watched a stunning final unfold between Canadian teenage sensation Bianca Andreescu and Angelique Kerber at Indian Wells today.
The 18-year-old Andreescu shocked three-time grand slam winner Kerber in a three-set thriller to become the youngest champion at Indian Wells since a 17-year-old Serena Williams lifted the trophy in 1999.
World No. 60 Andreescu survived a Kerber fightback and "burning feet" to come away with the 6-4 3-6 6-4 victory to cap off a remarkable tournament.
A commentator raved about the young gun as she dropped to the ground and looked around in disbelief at what she'd accomplished in becoming the first ever wildcard winner at Indian Wells.
"One of the most astonishing performances at a tournament from an 18-year-old you will ever see," the commentator said.
Kerber was all class in defeat, heaping praise on her less experienced rival.
"You just played amazing the whole tournament. You really deserve to win the title here," Kerber told Andreescu after the match.
The Canadian overcame nerves, arm and leg issues in the final set to earn the first title of her fledgling career. Andreescu won on her fourth match point when Kerber netted a backhand. Kerber was the last of five seeded players that Andreescu knocked off in her seven matches as she went on a giant-killing run in the Californian desert.
"It was amazing to share the court with you today," Andreescu told Kerber in her victory speech.
"You are an incredible champion and an inspiration. Hopefully this moment can be a great inspiration for many young athletes.
"If you believe in yourself, anything is possible.
"No matter what the score is, anyone can come back - 5-0, 3-0, 6-0."
That fighting spirit was on show, particularly in the third set when Andreescu complained to her coach Sylvain Bruneau about the physical toll the match was taking on her before vocalising her determination to get the win.
"I'm tired … my feet are burning," she said at a changeover. "I can barely move out there.
"I want this so bad."
Bruneau's wise words, where he encouraged his young charge to "push through it" and "stay strong under adversity" did the trick. She broke Kerber to level things up at 3-3 in the decider after calling for a medical time-out just a few games earlier to receive treatment on a forearm that was already taped up to start the match.
Metro UK tennis writer George Bellshaw tweeted about the "unbelievable scenes" of Andreescu breaking when it mattered most to go up 5-4 in the third and give her the chance to serve for the match, which she did - despite Kerber adding to the drama by saving three match points.
Andreescu sobbed into Bruneau's arms as she celebrated her breakthrough win.
"This moment has become a reality so it's really, really crazy," she said after her tears had dried up.
The level of both players was amazing and tennis journalists and commentators, as well as coaches and analysts like Darren Cahill and Brad Gilbert, were in awe of the incredible show.
So too was Andreescu's fellow Canadian teen sensation Felix Auger Aliassime.
Born in Canada, Andreescu later moved to Romania with her parents and first started playing tennis.
The Canadian followed in the footsteps of Naomi Osaka, who was a little-known 20-year-old when she won the Indian Wells title last year. Osaka used it as a springboard to win titles at the US and Australian Opens while ascending to the No. 1 ranking in January.
Kerber, ranked eighth, remains without a title since winning Wimbledon last year. Andreescu is projected to rise 36 spots to No. 24 in the WTA Tour rankings on Monday.
Leading 2-1 in the third, Andreescu took a medical time-out and had a trainer massage her right shoulder and arm. Kerber won the next two games, breaking Andreescu to go up 3-2.
After her pep talk with her coach, Andreescu won the next three games, ripping off powerful forehands while winning nine straight points during one stretch.
The teen had three match points on her serve before trying one of her patented drop shots. Kerber raced to get it and sent a forehand down the line to get to deuce. The German led 40-add on Andreescu's forehand error before the teen made a low-percentage attempt at a drop shot. It landed in the net, leaving Kerber trailing 5-4.
Andreescu bounced back, putting away a smash to set up her fourth match point before Kerber's backhand error ended the match.