Big match tonight for An­dreescu

The Prince George Citizen - - Sports - Stephanie MYLES

Bianca An­dreescu’s coach sees sim­i­lar­i­ties be­tween the 19-yearold Cana­dian and for­mer Bel­gian star Kim Cli­jsters, and he’s not the only one.

And since Cli­jsters won 41 ti­tles, in­clud­ing four Grand Slams, made four other ma­jor fi­nals and was ranked No. 1 in both sin­gles and dou­bles, that’s a com­par­i­son An­dreescu can be proud of.

“It makes me smile, and it made Bianca smile, too, when I men­tioned to her maybe three years ago – long be­fore I started work­ing with her – that there were enor­mous sim­i­lar­i­ties be­tween her game and Cli­jsters’ game,” her coach Sylvain Bruneau said Tues­day.

An­dreescu will face Cli­jsters’ coun­try­woman Elise Mertens in the U.S. Open women’s sin­gles quar­ter­fi­nals to­day at 4 p.m. PT. Ottawa’s Gabriela Dabrowski also will be in ac­tion, in the women’s dou­bles quar­ter­fi­nals.

Lind­say Daven­port played Cli­jsters 17 times dur­ing her ca­reer. The for­mer No. 1, now an an­a­lyst for Ten­nis Chan­nel in the U.S., also sees the par­al­lels.

“I think Bianca uses a bit more va­ri­ety than Cli­jsters, but I see it a lot in how she moves to her fore­hand,” Daven­port said. “Kim was an ex­pert at be­ing able to move on a di­ag­o­nal. It could have been a few feet; it could have been inches – how­ever much she needed to take the ball early. If she saw she had time, she would move into the court.”

If there were rum­blings about An­dreescu’s prospects com­ing into the U.S. Open af­ter she came back from a long in­jury lay­off and won her home­town Rogers Cup last month, the vol­ume is turn­ing up.

“Con­sid­er­ing she had won two ma­jor tour­na­ments on hard courts this year, you’d ex­pect there would be some buzz about what she might do here,” Bruneau said. “Now, she’s won four matches, and play­ing good ten­nis. But this is new ter­ri­tory for her. She has very lit­tle ex­pe­ri­ence in Grand Slams, never mind in the sec­ond week of Grand Slams.”

As the women’s field was be­ing whit­tled down to eight, some no­table ca­su­al­ties lit­tered the side of the U.S. Open high­way. De­fend­ing cham­pion Naomi Osaka, Wim­ble­don cham­pion and world No. 4 Si­mona Halep and 2017 cham­pion Sloane Stephens are among those in An­dreescu’s half of the draw who didn’t make the fi­nal eight.

Left in her half are Mertens along with No. 13 seed Belinda Ben­cic and No. 23 Donna Ve­kic, who also will meet Wed­nes­day.

Can An­dreescu win the U.S. Open, some­thing nearly un­think­able in Jan­uary when she was out­side the top 150?

“Yes, although you never know how a player will react when they get out there. But she’s never shown any signs of blink­ing and won­der­ing, ‘What am I do­ing here?”’ Daven­port said. “It’s a tough ask if she has to play Ser­ena (Wil­liams) here, who would be go­ing for her sev­enth (U.S. Open). But it doesn’t seem like An­dreescu ever comes into any match with a lot of fear,” she added.

Daven­port also hailed the Cana­dian’s com­pet­i­tive­ness.

“I’m su­per im­pressed with her. I don’t think there are many teenagers who have that kind of va­ri­ety. And a lot of times, when play­ers do have that much va­ri­ety, they don’t know how to put it to­gether at such a young age. And she’s a street fighter. Many of the teenagers, they kind of crum­ble at times. That doesn’t hap­pen with her.

AP PHOTO

Bianca An­dreescu of Canada plays against Tay­lor Townsend of the United States dur­ing their fourth round match Mon­day.

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