From Serena losing early to top-seed Novak Djokovic getting upset in the Round of 32, these are the top moments from BNP Paribas Open.
The young upstart vs. the wily veteran. It’s almost a cliche in the world of sports — or at least sports movies — but it will play out Sunday in the women’s final of the BNP Paribas Open.
On one side, you have three-time Grand Slam winner Angelique Kerber, a 31-year-old from Germany. On the other side, 18-year-old Bianca Andreescu of Canada. She has already doubled the amount of money she’s made in her career this week in Indian Wells.
It’s Andreescu’s first-ever BNP Paribas Open, it’s Kerber’s 10th. Kerber has played in 28 finals. Andreescu has played in one.
Andreescu is the first person to reach the final in her first time participating in the tournament since Serena Williams won it in 1999 … a year before Andreescu was born.
“She really played a great tournament so far. She beat tough opponents. She has nothing to lose. She will enjoy the final. Like me, I will also go out there and try to play like I played the last matches,” Kerber said of Andreescu. “I know it will be a tough challenge, as well, because she played well.
“I saw the match (Friday) a little bit, and I know that, yeah, she is playing really hard and she is going for it. So she is one who is really trying to take the match also in her hands,” Kerber said.
Andreescu, the youngest player to make a semifinal in Indian Wells since 2009 and first teen in the final since Serena Williams in 1999 and 2001, has confounded her opponents during these two weeks in the desert with the unusual variety with which she plays. It’s not a classic power game, though she can do that, too. She mixes in spins, drop shots, high balls, changes of pace. It’s all in an attempt to make the opponent uncomfortable during the point.
She has beaten the No. 18 seed Qiang Wang, No. 20 Garbine Muguruza and No. 6 Elina Svitolina to advance to the final.
Andreescu said there was a moment during her opening-round match against Irina-Camellia Begu, where she didn’t envision a run like this was possible. In fact, she thought she was done.
She lost the first set to Begu and regrouped to win 6-7, 6-3, 6-3.
“Yeah. I actually thought I was going to lose my first round, because I started off really, really slow,” Andreescu said after her semifinal win Friday. “I was really nervous. I have never played at Indian Wells before on such a big stadium. I played on Stadium 2. I was pretty nervous.
“Somehow, I just — I came back in that first set. It gave me confidence. And then I started off well in the second set. I ended up winning that match,” she said. “But I really didn’t think I was going to win that match. And physically, actually, my back was hurting a bit that match, too. So I was really, really lucky it held.”
Kerber advanced to the final with wins over No. 9 Aryna Sabalenka, Venus Williams and 23-seeded Belinda Bencic (6-4, 6-2) in the semifinal in her best match of the tournament.
She knows she’s going to need another great effort to pick up her first BNP Paribas Open trophy.
“You know, it will be a good match on the high level, and I know I have to play also one of my best tennis, especially in the important moments (to win),” Kerber said.
The two have never met and neither has reached the BNP Paribas Open final. The winner will receive $1,354,010, the runner-up gets $686,000. Neither would be bad for Andreescu, who has made $350,909 in her career.