INDIAN WELLS, CA, USA - Bianca Andreescu is not short on talent. Or ambition. And the WTA locker room is starting to take notice of the 18-year-old Canadian phenom, who has won more matches across all levels than any player on tour this season.
The Ontario native has come sprinting out of the blocks in 2019, posting 20-3 record this year across WTA main draw, qualifying, 125K Series, and Fed Cup matches. She started it all by reaching the final of the ASB Classic in January as a qualifier, defeating Caroline Wozniacki and Venus Williams en route, and followed it up with a title at the WTA 125K Series in Newport Beach. After making her Top 100 debut in January, she's now up to a career-high No.60, after making her second WTA semifinal of the season in Acapulco last week.
Andreescu's rocket-rise earned her a wildcard into this week's BNP Paribas Open, where she kicked off her Indian Wells debut with a first-round win over Irina Camelia Begu.
"Last year I had a couple of challengers in there and now I guess I'm full time on the WTA Tour, which is really nice," Andreescu told a small group of reporters before the tournament. "It's a dream come true. I guess it's different in the way that I'm not used to it yet and I still don't have a lot of experience like most of the other players, but I'm starting to gain that."
"I've played all of the Grand Slam already. It's just Indian Wells and Miami I haven't played, Acapulco I hadn't played. But it's a dream come true being able to stay at the best hotels, playing the best tournaments against top players."
Born in Ontario to Romanian parents, Andreescu first picked up a tennis racket at 7-years-old in Romania, after her family moved back during her childhood years. When her family returned to Canada, Andreescu stuck with tennis with the support of Tennis Canada, and she's been an inspiring success story for the country and federation.
In 2014, she won the prestigious 14-under title at Les Petit As. She also won back-to-back titles at the Orange Bowl at age 14 and 15. Then, in 2017, Andreescu became the first player born in the 2000s to record a Top 20 win on the WTA Tour, defeating Kristina Mladenovic at the City Open. Now she's evolved into a player no one wants to see in the draw.
Andreescu says she's been pleased with how her physicality has held up against the tour's best this season. "I think being able to last long rallies mentally and physically is very important because players on tour now are the most physically fit I think they've ever been," she said.
"And also mentally being able to last long matches is key and I think I've been I've been working a lot on that. It's definitely improving, but I still want it to improve even more. Also I'm a pretty aggressive player, so I'm working a lot on using my serve and return as an advantage and taking control right from the start."
While Andreescu has given Canada much to be excited about, she's also found massive support amongst Romanian fans.
"Romanians are everywhere," Andresscu said with a laugh. "I've definitely got a lot of love from all the Romanian media, which is nice. It's nice to have two fan bases, Canada and Romania."
Romania's No.1 Simona Halep has certainly taken note of Andreescu's progress on tour. "I spoke to her a few years ago in Canada when we practiced once," Halep said. "I told her she has to stop playing juniors. She wanted to play more but I said she is ready go to the higher level. As we see, she's doing great."
"I think she's running very well. I think she's hitting the ball strong and she's a good fighter, which gives her a better level. I'm sure she can improve a lot and be in the better ranking soon."
When Halep won Roland Garros last year, Andreescu was one of the first players to send out a celebratory message on social media, calling the 26-year-old her idol.
"Obviously she's from Romania and I'm Romanian," Andreescus said. "When she won French Open, that was very emotional, especially for Romania because I think we're very passionate people.
"She's an amazing player. She's accomplished so much in her career. And I know her as a person too, not very well, but I've spoken to her a lot of times and she's very down to earth and a very kind soul. So I really respect that and the way she presents herself."
"That's one of my goals, is to be an inspiration for others. I've actually received a lot of messages since Auckland saying that I've picked up a tennis racket because of you, which is incredible. It gives me a purpose to play this sport.
"I do see myself winning a Grand Slam, maybe even more, and making a name for myself, making history."