Canadian Bianca Andreescu reacts after her quarter-final win. (AFP)
NEW YORK :
CANADIAN Bianca Andreescu became the first teen US Open semi-finalist in a decade, rallying to defeat Belgium’s Elise Mertens on Wednesday and advance to a last-four match-up with Belinda Bencic. Andreescu, a 19-year-old from suburban Toronto, downed 25th seed Mertens 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 to book a clash against fellow Slam semi-final debutante Bencic, the Swiss 13th seed who beat Croatian 23rd seed Donna Vekic 7-6 (7/5), 6-3.
“I’m honestly speechless,” Andreescu said. “I need someone to pinch me right now. Is this real life?” Serena Williams, seeking her 24th Grand Slam singles title to match Margaret Court’s all-time record, faces Ukraine’s fifth-seeded Elina Svitolina in the other semis. Either Bencic or Andreescu, who have never played each other, will reach her first Slam final on Saturday at Arthur Ashe Stadium, where first-time Slam winners have been crowned three of the past four years.
“Semi-final feels great right now,” Bencic said. “I was dreaming about this day coming but you never know. I worked hard for this. Yeah, very nice feeling.” Andreescu, a winner this year at Indian Wells and Toronto, is the first teen in the US Open’s last four since Caroline Wozniacki in 2009. She credited being tested in her wins with giving her the poise to battle back after dropping the first set against a foe who had not dropped a set in the tournament. “I think it’s just the experience from playing these huge events this past year,” she said. “All that experience is just catching up.” Andreescu could become the first teen to win a Grand Slam title since Maria Sharapova captured the 2006 US Open and she would be the youngest US Open champion since Russia’s Svetlana Kuznetsova in 2004.