Bianca Andreescu crouches on the court.

Photo : Martin Sidorjak

Just like her compatriot Félix Auger-Aliassime earlier in the day on Saturday, Bianca Andreescu took the hard road to beat her second round opponent at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California.

The 22-year-old needed three sets as well as her full arsenal of skills and defensive prowess to get the better of American Peyton Stearns 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 under the lights at Stadium 3. Twice she was up a break in the opening set only to have her opponent claw her way back thanks to some impressive ball striking and she kept Andreescu guessing enough that she managed to claim the opening set.

That’s when the Canadian’s tenacity really came to the forefront. The no. 32 seed in the WTA draw once again jumped out to an early lead in set two and this time, she didn’t let Stearns back in the fight. She controlled the majority of the points with her variety and eventually forced a decisive final frame. In the third set, Andreescu continued to force the issue and maneuver the ball with authority. In a flash, she led 3-0 with a double break and never looked back as she cemented her place in the third round.

The victory over Stearns sets up a blockbuster match on Monday between the 2019 Indian Wells champion and the best player in the world, Iga Swiatek who has been virtually unbeatable of late. In her only previous meeting against the World No. 1 last year on the clay in Rome, Andreescu pushed Swiatek to a tiebreak in the first set and then couldn’t offer much resistance in set two. This time though, the match will be played on her preferred surface at a tournament where she has thrived in the past. Get out your popcorn.