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SportsMeet Bianca Andreescu, Canada's teen titan of tennis

18:21  07 september  2019
18:21  07 september  2019 Source:   nationalpost.com

‘Is This Real Life?’ Yes, and Bianca Andreescu Is the Real Deal

‘Is This Real Life?’ Yes, and Bianca Andreescu Is the Real Deal It will be the teen prodigy Bianca Andreescu against the former teen prodigy Belinda Bencic in the semifinals of the United States Open on Thursday night. Neither has been this deep into a Grand Slam tournament before, and Andreescu, a 19-year-old from Canada, had never even played a main-draw match at the U.S. Open until this year. “This is honestly so crazy,” the 15th-seeded Andreescu said after her 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 quarterfinal victory over Elise Mertens on Wednesday night. “A year ago, I was in the qualifying round. I remember I was suffering from a back injury, and now what I’ve accomplished this year, I’m honestly speechless. I need someone to pinch me right now.

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Canadian tennis star Bianca Andreescu , pictured at a ceremonial face-off before a Toronto Maple Leafs home game earlier this month, is currently gearing up for the WTA Finals that begin Sunday. (Mark Blinch/Getty Images). Dozens of Twitter users are echoing a hand-written message that hails

Meet Bianca Andreescu, Canada's teen titan of tennis© Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images Bianca Andreescu of Canada with the winners trophy following her victory over Serena Williams of the United States in the final match on Day 9 of the Rogers Cup at Aviva Centre on August 11, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. Williams withdrew from the match with a back injury.

In yet another 2019 moment that has left Canadian sports fans wondering if they’re dreaming, teenage tennis sensation Bianca Andreescu, of Mississauga, Ont., is within a racket-arm’s reach of clinching the U.S. Open. Now there’s just one little obstacle in the 19-year-old’s way: Serena Williams, who is about twice Andreescu’s age and debatably the best tennis player of all time. But Williams has been plagued by injuries of late, and is possibly past her peak. Andreescu, on the other hand, has rocketed up more than 100 places in the Women’s Tennis Association global rankings, from 152nd at the end of 2018 to 15th going into Saturday’s final match. The National Post’s Genna Buck spells out some of the factors that define Bianca Andreescu and her remarkable ascent.

The Rise and Rise of Bianca Andreescu

The Rise and Rise of Bianca Andreescu Bianca Andreescu, a 19-year-old Canadian, will play her first Grand Slam final on Saturday against Serena Williams. After Andreescu defeated Belinda Bencic in the semifinals on Thursday night, Pam Shriver of ESPN told her in a postmatch interview that a year ago, “I don’t think I’d heard of you.” Shriver would not be alone. Andreescu has had a stunningly rapid rise to the top of tennis since this time last year, compiling a 44-4 record. Aug. 22, 2018 Ranking: 208 In the first round of the United States Open qualifying tournament, Andreescu loses to Olga Danilovic, 6-3, 7-5. Nov.

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First things first: How do you say her name?

Meet Bianca Andreescu, Canada's teen titan of tennis© Dan Hamilton-USA Today Bianca Andreescu (Canada) answers questions during a media conference after defeating Serena Williams (USA) in the womens final of the Rogers Cup tennis tournament at Aviva Centre.

Announcers and fans alike tend to mangle it, but in a video , Andreescu herself pronounces her surname Ann-dress-coo, with slight emphasis on the last syllable. Her parents, Maria Andreescu, a finance executive, and Nicu Andreescu, an engineer, are originally from Romania. The family lived there for a few years when she was a child, though Bianca was born in Canada.

She’s a hoot on a hot mic

Meet Bianca Andreescu, Canada's teen titan of tennis© John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Bianca Andreescu (left) tries to console Serena Williams (left) after she withdrew from the championship match during the Rogers Cup tennis tournament at Aviva Centre.

At least in the context of the famously buttoned-up, crisply pressed sport of tennis, Andreescu has a tendency towards fresh language. When an ESPN reporter asked how she found her stride between sets, she said she knew she needed to get her “it” together, just barely stopping herself before uttering the preceding “sh.” She went on to say she “didn’t get too pissed” about having to deal with the hot weather. And in an exemplary display of sportsmanship last month, she embraced a tearful Serena Williams when the latter had to withdraw from the final of the Rogers Cup in Toronto, reassuring her, “You’re a f-cking beast.”

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While Yves Boulais, tennis director of the Ontario Racquet Club, where Andreescu trains, said the young player could stand to “polish a little bit of her media appearance,” his 19-year-old daughter Isabelle Boulais thinks her honesty is awesome.

“She has a very open personality. Anything that she’s shown to the media is literally her,” said Isabelle, who has been friends with Andreescu for five years and trained alongside her at the club. Sure, she doesn’t conform to the standards of the sport “from, like, the 1800s,” said Isabelle, who now plays tennis for Ohio State University. “She just doesn’t hide anything — anything she’s feeling, anything that is going through her head, she’s showing it on-court, and I love it.”

She loves dogs

Meet Bianca Andreescu, Canada's teen titan of tennis© Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Maria Andreescu, mother of Bianca Andreescu (Canada) holds her daughter’s pet dog Coco, as she watches her daughter win the womens final of the Rogers Cup tennis tournament against Serena Williams (USA) at Aviva Centre.

Andreescu’s caramel-coloured, curly-haired dog, Coco, is her constant pint-sized companion, and often observes matches from her perch on Maria’s lap. Isabelle believes Coco came from Romania, where the Andreescus have a family member who rescues dogs, she said. She fondly remembers the first time her friend brought the pup to a tournament in Quebec, “showing her off like a proud mom.”

#SheTheNorth: Bianca Andreescu always dreamed big. Now she's inspiring others to do the same.

#SheTheNorth: Bianca Andreescu always dreamed big. Now she's inspiring others to do the same. Long before she ever became a household name, Bianca Andreescu had her sights set on greatness — quite literally, with the words 'I won' written on her hand before taking to the court. It's the kind of determination her former coach Aref Jallali says immediately set Andreescu apart from the other kids. "She writes 'I won' on her hand and she shows it to me: 'Aref, I won! I'm going to get it done and come out,'" Jallali recalled. "She still has that type of determination. If she wants something she'll get it, since she was young." Even at age 11, he says, Andreescu dreamt big.

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She could more than double her winnings in one day

Andreescu has earned $2.42 million in prize money so far, almost all of it this year, and stands to gain another $3.85 million — for a total of $6.27 million — if she bests Williams on Saturday.

She’s hyper-focused

Meet Bianca Andreescu, Canada's teen titan of tennis© John E. Sokolowski-USA Today Bianca Andreescu (CAN) hits a ball to Serena Williams (not pictured) during the Rogers Cup tennis tournament at Aviva Centre.

Andreescu attended Bill Crothers Secondary School in Markham, Ont., which caters to elite athletes, this past year. As of April, she still had three courses to complete before graduating. She has said she plans to continue her education, to keep her mind engaged and prepare for her career after sport — but she doesn’t talk much about her post-tennis plans, Isabelle said. “She’s been focused on tennis since day one … She was going to be a professional tennis player. That was it,” she said. “If she wasn’t playing tennis, I guarantee she’d be doing sports, because she’s just such a complete athlete.”

She works for her zen

Meet Bianca Andreescu, Canada's teen titan of tennis© Johannes Eisele / AFP Bianca Andreescu of Canada reacts after winning against Elise Mertens of Belgium during their Women’s Singles Quarterfinals match at the 2019 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York on September 4, 2019.

Andreescu told the National Post’s Scott Stinson that she started incorporating meditation and visualization exercises into her training at the age of 12 or 13, at her mom’s suggestion.

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“I think if you can control your mind, then you can control a lot of things,” Andreescu said. “When I’m on the court in front of these big stages, I’m really good at just blocking everything and staying in the zone.”

Yves Boulais said Andreescu is “abnormally calm for the stress that our sport brings,” and has drawn inspiration from the works of the life coach and sports-psychology guru Tony Robbins.

He added much of her success stems from her “level head” and the practice of relaxing and centring herself she cultivated from a young age.

“It’s really rare. Bianca seems to have a peace about her that kind of makes her take (her game) stride by stride, not rushing. That’s what really makes her different.”

She plays through pain

Meet Bianca Andreescu, Canada's teen titan of tennis

Andreescu sometimes plays with a wrap around her leg, but as is typical for pros, has been tight-lipped about the nature of her injury. She played the Rogers Cup in August on a quadricep that was acting up, but that’s been the least of her physical woes this year. She withdrew in the fourth round of the Miami Open in March with a shoulder injury. Her return in May, at the French Open, lasted only one match before the shoulder pain resumed. She was out of action again, missing Wimbledon in the process, until the Rogers Cup in August. Last year her season was marred by back trouble. The various ailments have led her to grow her support team, which now includes a physical trainer, hitting partner, physiotherapist/osteopath, sports psychologist and doctor.

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The injury rates among young tennis players are incredibly high, and Andreescu has had her fair share. But that tends to pass as they reach a higher level of strength and fitness around 23 or 24, Yves Boulais said. This means Canadians might well have years of exciting tennis-watching ahead of us as she reaches her prime.

Some have wondered about the plastic spiral hair tie Andreescu has been wearing around her bicep during games since January, but there’s nothing wrong with her arm: It’s a good-luck charm.

Tennis is her thing — not her family’s

Meet Bianca Andreescu, Canada's teen titan of tennis

Andreescu’s parents put her in a number of sports and activities when she was young, and she showed aptitude for tennis. They themselves are “not tennis people,” but do have a positive, calming influence on their daughter’s game, Yves Boulais said. “They’re not over-emotional, like lots of parents are, about the sport.”

With files from the Canadian Press and Scott Stinson

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Bianca Andreescu’s recent victory at the U.S. Open was truly historical. She beat Serena Williams. She is only 19. This is Canada’s first Grand Slam singles win. This is Bianca’s first Grand Slam win. She is a young woman (it matters). She beat Serena Williams. But while Canada rejoices at having made a global mark in tennis – the most recent celebration having taken place in her hometown of Mississauga on the weekend – certain quarters in the

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