US Open: Teenager Andreescu battles past Bencic and into final with Serena

Nineteen-year-old Bianca Andreescu will face Serena Williams for the US Open title after defeating Belinda Bencic in the semifinals.

Bianca Andreescu will play in her first grand slam final against Serena Williams at the US Open.   -  GETTY IMAGES

Bianca Andreescu will play in her first grand slam final against Serena Williams at the US Open after coming through a fascinating battle with Belinda Bencic in straight sets.

Andreescu and Bencic were given an all too unnecessary reminder of what they would face in a potential final with Williams, who dismantled Elina Svitolina in the earlier semifinal at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Their duel proved a more prolonged and engrossing one as two players with hugely impressive variety to their games proved extremely well matched.

However, Andreescu's superior power proved the difference in a tight and tense affair, the 19-year-old Canadian coming back from 5-2 down in the second set to claim a 7-6 (7-3), 7-5 win that ensures a grand slam run few people expected will end with her holding a trophy of some kind.

 

“It's just surreal. I really don't know what to say. It's a dream come true playing Serena in the finals of the US open. It's crazy, it's crazy,” Andreescu said.

“I think it's just all the hard work I've put in through the years. If someone told me a year ago I would be in the US Open final this year, I'd tell them they were crazy.”

Bencic knocked out defending champion Naomi Osaka en route to the last four, and made a positive start in her quest to end the hopes of a player who has become a crowd favourite at Flushing Meadows.

A backhand winner from the Swiss brought up the first of two break points in the fourth game, but Andreescu survived both of them before staving off three in the sixth game.

The effort Andreescu put in to holding those service games appeared to take a toll on her as she grabbed for her left knee after producing an exquisite lob.

However, she followed that shot with a wonderful drop volley and then a forehand winner to help her hold to love.

Any lingering doubts about her fitness were dispelled when she saved a Bencic set point with a forehand winner and then produced an ace to hold, before setting up the tie-break in the same fashion.

Only a double fault ended her run of five straight points to start the shoot-out, giving Bencic brief hope. However, the 13th seed went long after winning three points in a row to surrender the opener.

Andreescu replicated that error in the next game to hand the second-set initiative to Bencic, who spurned a chance for a double break by ripping a cross-court backhand into the net.

She did go on to break the Andreescu serve twice more but gave the break back on both occasions as they each displayed visible anguish at their inability to find consistency.

Andreescu rediscovered her composure, though, and held to force Bencic to serve the second set out, which she proved unable to do, sending down a double fault on break point.

The momentum and the crowd were firmly on the side of Andreescu by that point, and the pressure of having to serve to stay in the tournament proved too much for Bencic to overcome as the teenager made no mistake with her third match point.

Andreescu, as she did in the quarterfinal, put her hands on her head in disbelief, and plenty more will be doing the same if she manages to stun history-chasing Williams in the final.

STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN
Bianca Andreescu [15] bt Belinda Bencic [13] 7-6 (7-3) 7-5

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Andreescu – 40/38
Bencic – 16/32

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Andreescu – 7/9
Bencic – 2/4

BREAK POINTS WON
Andreescu – 3/6
Bencic – 3/13

FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE
Andreescu – 59
Bencic – 59

PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE
Andreescu – 70/41
Bencic – 62/48

TOTAL POINTS
Andreescu – 95
Bencic – 88

(With inputs from AFP)