Bianca Andreescu had the match on her racquet. She had match point in the second set; however, the Canadian star who stormed through the WTA Tour in 2019 couldn’t come through. Instead, she would go on to lose in three sets to Simona Halep, 6-3, 6-7(6), 3-6.
The defending U.S. Open champ hit the courts in Shenzhen, China at the WTA Finals on Monday as the No. 4 player in the world. One of only eight women’s singles players invited to the season-capper, Andreescu faced Halep to start her purple pool round robin.
Statistically, Andreescu should have won the match, winning 61 percent of her first service points, 68 percent on the second serve, 42 percent of returns on Halep’s first serves and 63 points to the Romanian’s 53. She once again showcased a dynamic game of mixing up shot selection and placement in a battle that did take two hours and 34 minutes. Andreescu did appear to stiffen up late in the match and she had a trainer work on her back before the third set started, which may have played a role in the loss.
The Canadian will next play either Elina Svitolina and Karolina Pliskova in pool play. The top two in each pool advance to the semifinals.
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A native of Mississauga, Andreescu has already had quite a year: a championship at the 125K Series event in Newport Beach, Calif.; a win at the prestigious Indian Wells tournament, the first wild card to do so; another WTA Tour title at home (Toronto) at the Rogers Cup; and of course her first Grand Slam title in Flushing, N.Y. In between, she battled a shoulder injury that forced her to retire in the Round of 16 in Miami and the second round of the French Open. She withdrew before Wimbledon started.
The first Canadian Grand Slam singles champ, Andreescu looked up to Halep when she was a child and the pair practiced together once, years before Andreescu was on tour. It was the first meeting between the two players of Romanian descent in a tournament.
Sporting News asked the 2019 Wimbledon champ about Bianca at the U.S. Open’s media day: “I always said she’s a fighter and she deserves to win these matches because she doesn’t give up. She’s working hard. … I have no connection with her, like, we are not friends or something. I just told her at that time, a few years ago, to get professional because she has enough power to do that. … She’s a good player.”