It may not get the same kind of press in Canada as hockey does (more on that tomorrow!), but more and more, tennis is getting its due in the great north.
First it was players like Milos Raonic and Genie Bouchard, who shot up higher into the world rankings than any Canadian before them. Then, we've watched as best friends Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime stepped forward to prove that this country was more than a one-serve wonder. Now it seems that Bianca Andreescu (say AWN-dreh-EHS-koo) is ready to add her name to that list.
Au-some in Auckland
2019 is only days old, but the 18 year-old from Mississauga, Ontario has already beaten two former World No.1's in two straight days.
Playing in the ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand, Andreescu faced Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark in her second match of the tournament. Despite the fact that Wozniacki is the defending Australian Open champion and currently ranked No.3 in the world, Bianca beat her in straight sets, 6–4, 6–4.
The next test? A quarterfinal match against Venus Williams, one of the living legends of the game. Though the match started off tougher with Venus winning the first set in a tiebreak, Andreescu closed out strong winning 6–7, 6–1, 6–3. Suddenly, this unknown teen is sitting in her first semifinals, just two wins away from her first WTA title (the WTA is the top level of women's tennis).
A star is born?
In all young athletes, there are those players who have great—but unrealized—potential and those who are ready to hang with the top pros. Up until now, Andreescu was firmly in the first group. She has never been ranked higher 143 and has only played in the main draw of a Grand Slam once—when she lost in the first round in Wimbledon in 2017.
But these two victories will remind Canadian tennis fans a lot of the summer of 2017, when a then-unknown Shapovalov beat World No.1 Rafael Nadal in Montreal. Today, Shapo is one of tennis' brightest and most popular young stars. So is this the moment where Bianca makes her move to show that she belongs in that same group?
Well, first off, she has matches to win! On Saturday, she'll face Su-Wei Shieh of Taipei in the semifinal. If she wins that? She could be facing German Julia Georges in the final, who is also the Auckland tournament's defending champion. And if she beats both of those players, she'll really be the talk of the town. But if not, well ...
Shapovalov didn't win that Montreal tournament in 2017, either. But what he did do was kept on winning more matches than he lost as he climbed the ranks. Win or lose tonight, this might be the moment that Andreescu goes from 'could be good' to just 'really good'.