INDIAN WELLS, CA, USA - Bianca Andreescu certainly did not arrive to the California desert expecting to leave two weeks later with one of the biggest titles on offer on the WTA Tour. The 18-year-old Canadian won seven matches over 12 days, including wins over four seeds and back-to-back Top 10 players, to become the first wildcard to win the BNP Paribas Open and the youngest Indian Wells champion since Serena Williams in 1999.
"It's definitely a blur right now," Andreescu said on the WTA Insider Podcast. "I didn't get a chance to soak anything in yet.
"But it's incredible what I have accomplished this whole entire week - two weeks! I've never played a tournament this long before. Being able to compete in in front of such an amazing crowd at this incredible tournament, it's definitely the Fifth Slam. And being able to play against top-level players, it really is a dream come true."
Andreescu sat down with WTA Insider after her big win to reflect on the fortnight, reveal how her unique game, which balanced variety and power perfectly during her title run came to be, and underline why in tennis, age is nothing but a number.
WTA Insider: At the start of the tournament, you sat here in this room and told us you believed you could win multiple majors and become World No.1. Now you're sitting here with a Premier Mandatory title. How did you keep your head throughout these two weeks?
Andreescu: Yeah, definitely it's that's not easy, but I have a good team around me that help me stay grounded and I have amazing parents and friends that do the same. But I really do believe that I deserve to be here and I think I proved that this week. So hopefully a lot of other good things can come in my career.
WTA Insider: Two things really impressed people this week: the variety in your game and your mental strength. At 18-years-old, you're not supposed to be able to keep your cool under the pressure you faced, particularly in your wins over Elina Svitolina and Angelique Kerber in the final. How did this game get built for you? Who encouraged you to play this way?
Andreescu: So ever since I was little I was always changing the rhythm. It probably was because I was getting bored just hitting the same shot over and over again. I'm the type of person that gets bored really quickly. So that's definitely one thing. And when I saw that I was winning a lot of matches playing like that not only in the junior level but also on the circuit level and now on the pro level, I'm like okay, let's keep working on this and in practice that's all I do.
I work on changing the rhythm, being able to hit the right shot at the right time since I have so many tools in my toolbox because before I would have just so many options in my head I would just hit the wrong shot at the wrong time. But I think now with all the experience that I've been gaining and the confidence, it really has given me a chance to pursue my game at the best level.
And on the mental aspect of things, my mom has shown me how to meditate and she introduced me to all of that, and I really think it helps me stay in the moment. I do a lot of creative visualization, where I picture myself in tough situations and how I'm able to handle them, and also lifting the trophy at the end. And that's what I've been doing for so many years and now it's become a reality.
WTA Insider: How do you balance your variety and power game?
Andreescu: It starts in practice. I'm working a lot on that and also in the gym, to being able to last long rallies and being able to have the strength to hit such heavy balls.
But going back to the 'I'm only 18 part.' I really think that anything is possible at any age. So many tennis players have proved that when they were 16 they're winning Grand Slams and Naomi last year I think she's only 19 when she won. Tsitsipas, Felix, Dennis, we're all showing that it's possible at any age to be able to accomplish what they've accomplished.
WTA Insider: Naomi once said years ago, when asked about whether she felt she needed more experience to break through, that experience doesn't matter if you're good enough. Does that resonate with you?
Andreescu: I actually really, really respect that. I think it's true. Anything is possible at any age and she said if you're good enough then experience doesn't really matter.
I guess it's also because they've never played these younger players these up and coming players before so they don't really know their game style and they're probably a bit nervous because they're playing much younger players. So when I do see that during the match, when they're just kind of bunting the ball or giving free points, I take advantage of that. I think that's what I've been doing really well the past couple of months. I just keep fighting no matter what the score is.
WTA Insider: When you got to the tournament, did you believe you could win the title?
Andreescu: No, no, no. Every tournament I go into though, I want to win of course. But no, I really -- because in the first round I really I thought I was going to lose that match because I was so shaky from the beginning.
But then after I started winning more and more matches I'm like OK I think there's a really good shot. And like I said I've been picturing myself holding this trophy for so long. And everything is paying off and everything is so worth it.
WTA Insider: Going back to your game, how much of what you do on the court is about executing a playbook versus improvisation?
Andreescu: Well you really never know what your opponent's gonna bring. But obviously I do have different tactics in the back of my mind. It really depends on who I play, obviously, but my main thing is just changing the rhythm and then see what my opponent does and re-evaluate during the match.
WTA Insider: You started the season ranked No.152 and on Monday you will rise to No.24, a Top 25 player. You'll likely be seeded at Slams and no longer have to go through qualifying to get into main draws. What do you think it will be like when you see that 24 next to your name?
Andreescu: It's definitely easier on the body and the mental aspect of things, that I won't have to play qualifying. For sure I'll get a bye in tournaments. So that aspect is great.
And also, just everything that has happened throughout the last couple of years, I remember I was in such a bad spot a year ago and now I'm like you said I'm number 24 in the world. It's just all those bad moments, if you just keep thinking of all the positives that might happen, all I can say is that it's all worth it and this means everything to me.