Into US Open semis, Bianca Andreescu tries to become Canada’s champ
NEW YORK — Basketball Hall of Famer Steve Nash tweeted about her. So did WNBA player Kia Nurse.
Canada is crazy for Bianca Andreescu.
“It’s really cool having other Canadian athletes shout me out like that,” Andreescu said. “I think it gives me extra motivation to just keep striving and keep doing well.”
She’s been doing great all year and is two wins from punctuating her season by winning her first Grand Slam title. The No. 15 seed reached the U.S. Open semifinals by overcoming No. 25 Elise Mertens 3-6, 6-2, 6-3.
The 19-year-old is 31-4 this season, with titles at Indian Wells and Toronto. Now she is the youngest semifinalist at Flushing Meadows since Caroline Wozniacki was also 19 when she was the runner-up in 2009.
She’s also two wins from Canada’s first Grand Slam singles champion.
“If it happens, then I think I can pave way for many other athletes, the next generation,” Andreescu said, “not only for Canadian tennis, but I think for many people.”
Belinda Bencic knew there was sadness in Switzerland after Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka departed the U.S. Open on the same day.
She did her part to lift some spirits — and might just end up lifting a trophy.
Bencic advanced to her first Grand Slam semifinal on Wednesday, wearing down Donna Vekic for a 7-6 (5), 6-3 victory.
“It would be really nice if the boys could also make it to semifinals,” she said, “but I’m happy I can kind of do it for them and don’t let them down.”
The No. 13 seed said she was surprised, like many people, to be the last Swiss singles player in the tournament. Federer, the five-time champion who was seeded third, fell in five sets to 78th-ranked Grigor Dimitrov on Wednesday. Hours earlier, Wawrinka was ousted in his quarterfinal match by Daniil Medvedev after the 2016 champion had eliminated top-ranked Novak Djokovic in the previous round.
“This is not a good thing,” Bencic said. “I’m not happy about this actually.”
Bencic began the season by partnering with Federer to win the Hopman Cup in January. Now she can join him as a major champion. Federer is the men’s career leader with 20 Grand Slam singles titles.
“I think the dream of every tennis player obviously is to win the biggest tournaments,” Bencic said. “I think for sure being No. 1 in the world or winning a Grand Slam is always a dream. But I think it’s still a long way to that.”
SERENA VS. ELINA
Serena Williams looked all but unbeatable in her quarterfinal match, which she won in a mere 44 minutes.
So Gael Monfils knows Elina Svitolina will be facing a tough opponent and a tough crowd, but he thinks his girlfriend will be ready for it Thursday night.
“She has nothing to lose,” Monfils said. “She knows well Serena. She knows the crowd is going to be against her.”
Svitolina will be playing in her second straight Grand Slam semifinal, after losing to eventual champion Simona Halep at Wimbledon. She is looking for her first major title.
Williams has won 23 of those, including six at the U.S. Open. She looked like the favorite to win another in her 6-1, 6-0 rout of Wang Qiang on Tuesday.
Monfils thinks the key for Svitolina, who beat Williams in the 2016 Olympics, will be to prevent her from a fast start.
“It’s going to be a tricky one at the beginning, I would say, for both,” Monfils said, adding that if Williams “should come in slow, I think Elina will be there.”
Monfils couldn’t give the couple two semifinalists, falling to Matteo Berrettini in a quarterfinal match that went to a fifth-set tiebreaker.
Half the spots in the ATP Finals have been filled.
Daniil Medvedev clinched his first appearance in the season-ending tournament with his victory over Stan Wawrinka in the U.S. Open quarterfinals. That victory was worth 360 points for the Russian and pushed him over 4,000 for the season in the race to London standings.
Rafael Nadal is first, followed by Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer. They were the first three players to qualify for the eight-player tournament.
The ATP Finals will be played Nov. 10-17 at the O2 Arena.
Medvedev plays unseeded Grigor Dimitrov on Friday for a spot in the U.S. Open final.
ADDITION ON THE AVENUE
Billie Jean King helped unveil a new addition on the grounds of the U.S. Open.
She and Rosie Casals unveiled pavers honoring Gladys Heldman and the entire Original 9 on the USTA Foundation’s “Avenue of Aces.”
King and Casals were both members of the Original 9. Next year will be the 50th anniversary of the Original 9 and the signing of their $1 contracts with Heldman, signifying the birth of women’s professional tennis as it is known today.
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