TORONTO (AP) — Teenager Bianca Andreescu advanced to the Rogers Cup title match with a 6-4, 7-6 (5) victory over Sofia Kenin on Saturday, becoming the first Canadian in 50 years to make the women’s final.
The 19-year-old Andreescu, from nearby Mississauga, will face Serena Williams on Sunday.
“The crowd will obviously be for her, but it’s really not about that,” Williams said. “It’s just about going out there and playing your great tennis. Luckily, I’ve had some tough crowds in my career, so hopefully I will be used to it.”
Canadians Faye Urban and Vicki Berner played in the 1969 final, with Urban winning the tournament that was played on clay and called the Canadian Open.
“For sure there’s some pressure, but I have nothing to lose, really,” Andreescu said. “We’ll see how it goes. I’m just going to try and stay in the present moment.”
Williams beat Czech qualifier Marie Bouzkova 1-6, 6-3, 6-3 in the second semifinal.
“I just needed to be more consistent and not make so many errors and just mentally be ready to hit a thousand balls if I needed to,” Williams said. “In the first set, I was going for a little too much, so I just had to just play a different game. That was really important for me was to just change it up and move it around and not be so predictable. It’s a good lesson for me in the future, as well, more than anything.”
The 37-year-old Williams is ranked 10th and seeded eighth in her first event since losing the Wimbledon final. She won in 2001, 2011 and 2013 — all in Toronto — and has a tournament-record 34 victories in 38 matches. The American won the last of her 72 singles titles in the 2017 Australian Open.
Andreescu is returning from a right shoulder injury that sidelined her since the French Open in May. She won in Indian Wells in March for her first WTA Tour title.
“Just with all that I’ve been through. The past couple of months have been so, so, so, so tough,” Andreescu said. “Just being able to be here right now is truly incredible.”
Backed by a vocal sellout crowd, Andreescu beat Kenin on her fifth match point, avoiding a third set for the first time in the tournament. Andreescu had three chances to finish the semifinal before the second set went to a tiebreaker, but the American fought back each time.
Andreescu finally sealed the match on a backhand winner. She dropped to her knees and covered her face before kissing the Aviva Centre’s hardcourt. After speaking with an on-court reporter she found her parents in the crowd for a long embrace.
“All the emotions I had during that tiebreaker, I think my body just wanted to let it all out,” Andreescu said. “It’s just so incredible that I’m in the final of the Rogers Cup. I had zero expectations coming into this tournament.”
That partisan crowd did affect Kenin’s concentration.
“I don’t play in those kind of conditions, so it’s not like I can practice,” Kenin said. “I didn’t want to pay attention to that. I knew it was going to happen, so it wasn’t like a shock. I obviously expected this. I tried to just block it out and do the best I can.”
Kenin was the last opponent to beat Andreescu in a full match, at the Mexico Open in February. Andreescu has won 16 consecutive matches in which she has not retired because of injury, including victories over six of the WTA’s top 10 players. Her world ranking will rise from 27th to at least 19th.