INDIAN WELLS, CA, USA - Wildcard Bianca Andreescu held her nerve to upset No.18 seed Wang Qiang 7-5, 6-2 in one hour and 28 minutes, becoming the youngest BNP Paribas Open quarterfinalist in a decade.
The 18-year-old continued her phenomenal start to 2019, extending her overall win-loss record to 25-3 (12-3 in WTA main draws), having already notched up a final in Auckland, a semifinal in Acapulco and a title run at the Newport Beach 125K. Today's win means that Andreescu becomes the youngest player to make the last eight in Indian Wells since Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova's semifinal run at the age of 17 years and eight months in 2009. Having begun the year ranked World No.152, Andreescu will now break the Top 50 next week.
"Amazing is an understatement right now," marveled Andreescu afterwards. "I don't think it's going to be all butterflies and rainbows every day, but it has been so far, and just gonna take it one day at a time. Hopefully I can do a lot of great things this season.
"I think confidence is almost everything for a player. If you trust your shots, if you trust your game, good things always happen. I think that's what's happening with me right now."
In the first meeting between the pair, Andreescu blazed out of the gates to snatch ten of the first 14 points and an opening break for 2-0, dictating with her forehand and conjuring up a number of exquisite dropshot winners from that wing as well. By contrast, Wang - two days after winning the fourth longest match of the season so far, a two-hour, 57-minute marathon over No.16 seed Elise Mertens - was going awry with her groundstrokes too much.
"She does like pace, so I tried not to give her a lot of that today," observed Andreescu. "She really didn't like the high ball to her backhand, which I used a lot, and it helped. Also the slices, the angles, everything that I like to do worked well today."
The Chinese No.1 would twice come through tight holds with strong serving to keep the deficit to a single break, and found accuracy in her defensive lobs that was missing from her offensive groundstrokes. This seemed to pay off in the eighth game when, out of nowhere, Andreescu coughed up three double faults to hand the break back - a wobble that caused the teenager to break her racquet in frustration. Indeed, it was a game that highlighted the importance of the first serve to Andreescu: during the opening set, she would lose just one point behind it, but win only 29% of her second serve points.
"It's nice to let some anger out sometimes," said Andreescu of her racquet smash. "I wish I didn't have to do that, but it just came out." In order to stay calm on court, the teenager revealed that she is a practitioner of yoga and creative visualization meditation, which "my mom introduced me to that when I was really young... maybe about 12".
Expanding, she said: "I don't only work on my physical aspect. I also work on the mental, because that's also very, very important. It's definitely showing through my matches where I'm staying in the present moment a lot of the time. I don't like to focus on what just happened or in the future."
And despite coming two points from losing the set serving at 4-5, the Canadian regained her composure in the nick of time. A nervy conclusion to the set saw Wang broken on a backhand error in the 11th game, before brave hitting on the backhand side enabled Andreescu to serve it out on her second set point.
Demonstrating fine variety and depth on return, Andreescu would again break to open the second set. Just as previously, there was a mid-set wobble as a fifth double fault brought up a 0-40 opportunity for Wang in the sixth game - but this time, the World No.60 gathered herself even more quickly.
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Digging firmly into rallies and refusing to give ground, Andreescu saved all three break points for a crucial hold - and then, rampant from the baseline, smacked a forehand winner to break Wang again immediately afterwards. Serving for the match, the youngster came up with a forehand one-two punch to save a fourth break point out of four in the second set, and sealed victory on her first match point with a blistering backhand winner down the line.
Andreescu's third career Top 20 win moves her into a maiden Premier Mandatory quarterfinal, where she will next face resurgent No.20 seed Garbiñe Muguruza - another dream for the youngster. "I have watched her play many times on TV, so it's just crazy to think that I'll be competing against her," she marveled again.