Photo: Mauricio Paiz|MIAMI GARDENS
No surprises here, no April fools. Bianca Andreescu is our Canadian Star of the Month for all the reasons you’d imagine. Winning the BNP Paribas Open at the tender age of 18 will do that for you – and rightly so.
Andreescu, who was ranked 152nd in the world as recently as December, has shot up to 23rd as we enter April. It’s safe to say March 2019 will live long in her memory, as well as the memories of Canadian tennis fans around the world.
Heading into last month, the Mississauga-native was placed at a respectable no. 71 in the WTA singles rankings. Her run to the final at the ASB Classic is Auckland and the semi-final of the Mexican Open had already caught the eye but no one could have predicted that just a few short weeks later she’d be a WTA Premier Mandatory title winner.
Her run to the Indian Wells crown included wins over four top-20 players, including Germany’s Angelique Kerber, who was the tournament’s eighth seed, in a dramatic final, which she took 6-4, 3-6, 6-4. Her stunning victories over the likes of Wang Qiang, Garbine Muguruza and Elina Svitolina were also more-than memorable matches.
At the Miami Open, it looked as if Andreescu could have made another deep run. On her way to the round of 16, the 18-year-old saw off the challenge of Sofia Kenin, the last player to beat her, a highly-charged rematch with Kerber before being forced to pull out against Anett Kontaveit due to a shoulder injury.
Bianca finally bows out.
An incredible 10-match win streak, which saw the 18-year-old win Indian Wells and register 5 wins over Top 20 opponents, comes to an end in the fourth round of the #MiamiOpen, as she retires down 1-6, 0-2 to Anett Kontaveit.
— Tennis Canada (@TennisCanada) March 25, 2019
Who’s to say that without that setback, we wouldn’t be sitting here writing about yet another title win for the Canadian?
February’s Canadian Star of the Month Félix Auger-Aliassime enjoyed another stellar few weeks and is unfortunate to miss out on the title this time round. Entering March, the Montrealer was placed 60th in the ATP rankings – he’s now 33rd.
First the 18 year old made it to the third round of the BNP Paribas Open, beating ninth-seed and former junior rival Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4, 6-2 in the second round. Then he made a record-breaking run to the semi-finals at the Miami Open.
In reaching the last four, Auger-Aliassime became the youngest ever semi-finalist in the tournament’s history. Unfortunately, a 7-6(3), 7-6(4) loss to American John Isner meant he was denied a place in the final. But, nonetheless, it was still an outstanding month for ‘FAA’.
While Denis Shapovalov moved up just five places in the rankings – although it’s worth mentioning that rising from 25th to 20th is no mean feat – he is also unlucky to miss out on being named Canadian Star of the Month.
A round of 16 appearance at Indian Wells, where he was beaten by Hubert Hurkacz, was swiftly followed by a semi-final appearance in Miami. His run to the last four included victories over eighth-seed Tsitsipas and American Frances Tiafoe.
Those victories set up a semi-final clash with his idol Roger Federer. Despite falling 6-2, 6-4 to the 20-time Grand Slam champion, Shapovalov made sure to give the Swiss a match, especially in the second set, which was decided by a single break point.
(Feature photo: Mauricio Paiz)