An­dreescu beats Wil­liams

Cana­dian wins U.S. Open fi­nal

Antelope Valley Press (Sunday) - - Sports - By HOWARD FENDRICH

NEW YORK — Bianca An­dreescu dis­played the same brand of big-serv­ing, big-hit­ting, in-your-face tennis that Serena Wil­liams usu­ally does.

And now the 19-year-old from Canada is a Grand Slam cham­pion, earn­ing her first such ti­tle while pre­vent­ing Wil­liams from col­lect­ing a record-ty­ing 24th.

An­dreescu took charge early in the U.S. Open fi­nal, go­ing up by a set and two breaks, then held off a late charge by Wil­liams to win 6-3, 7-5 for the cham­pi­onship Satur­day night.

“Be­ing able to play on this stage against Serena, a true le­gend in this sport, is amaz­ing,” said An­dreescu, who was ap­pear­ing in her first ma­jor fi­nal, while Wil­liams was in her 33rd. “Oh, man, it wasn’t easy at all.”

This is the sec­ond year in a row that Wil­liams has lost in the fi­nal at Flush­ing Mead­ows. This one had none of the con­tro­versy of 2018, when she got into an ex­tended ar­gu­ment with the chair um­pire while be­ing beaten by Naomi Osaka.

Wil­liams has now been the run­ner-up at four of the seven ma­jors she has en­tered since re­turn­ing to the tour af­ter hav­ing a baby two years ago. The 37-year-old Amer­i­can re­mains stuck on 23 Grand Slam sin­gles titles, one shy of Mar­garet Court’s mark for the most in his­tory.

“I’m just so proud that I’m out here and com­pet­ing at this level. My team has been so sup­port­ive through all the ups and downs and downs and downs and downs,” Wil­liams said. “Hopefully, we’ll have some ups soon.”

An­dreescu, the first player from Canada to win a ma­jor sin­gles ti­tle, went up 5-1 in the sec­ond set and served for the vic­tory there, even hold­ing a match point at 40-30. But Wil­liams erased that with a fore­hand re­turn win­ner off a 105

mph serve.

That launched a fourgame run for Wil­liams, who broke An­dreescu again to make it 5-all.

“I was just fight­ing at that point,” said Wil­liams, a six-time U.S. Open cham­pion. “Just try­ing to stay out there a lit­tle bit longer.”

The Arthur Ashe Sta­dium crowd was over­whelm­ingly sup­port­ing Wil­liams, not sur­pris­ingly, and spec­ta­tors got so loud as she tried to put to­gether a suc­cess­ful comeback that An­dreescu cov­ered her ears with her hands af­ter one point.

“I just tried to block ev­ery­thing out,” An­dreescu said af­ter­ward. “I’m just glad with how I man­aged, re­ally.”

Sud­denly, this was a con­test.

Or so it seemed.

But as well as An­dreescu han­dled ev­ery­thing — her­self, her far-more-ex­pe­ri­enced and suc­cess­ful op­po­nent, and even the mo­ment — Wil­liams was far from her best, es­pe­cially while serv­ing. She got bro­ken for the sixth time in the fi­nal game.

This was the largest age gap in a Grand Slam fi­nal, and it came al­most ex­actly 20 years to the day since Wil­liams won the U.S. Open for her first ma­jor ti­tle in 1999, a year be­fore An­dreescu was born.

An­dreescu is the first woman to win the tro­phy at Flush­ing Mead­ows in her main-draw tour­na­ment de­but in the Open era, which started in 1968 when pro­fes­sion­als were al­lowed into Grand Slam tour­na­ments. She only has par­tic­i­pated in four ma­jors in her brief ca­reer.

Just think: A year ago, An­dreescu was los­ing in the open­ing round of qual­i­fy­ing.

On Satur­day, there she was, putting her hands on her head, drop­ping her racket and then pump­ing her fists when it ended. Af­ter a hug from a smil­ing Wil­liams at the net, An­dreescu kissed the blue court and rolled onto her back, soaking in the ap­plause.

About two hours ear­lier, the 15th-seeded An­dreescu was stand­ing in the hall­way lead­ing from the locker room to the court, do­ing a pre­match in­ter­view in which she sounded like some­one whose mind was as con­fi­dent as her play would soon be, say­ing, “I’m just go­ing to take it like it’s any other match.”

As­so­ci­ated Press

VIC­TORY Bianca An­dreescu, of Canada, re­acts af­ter de­feat­ing Serena Wil­liams, of the United States, in the women’s sin­gles fi­nal of the U.S. Open tennis cham­pi­onships on Satur­day in New York.

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