Tennis: Teenager Andreescu pulls off great escape in Miami

Friday, 2019-03-22 07:52:07
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Andreescu saves match point in stunning Miami comeback over Begu. (Photo: WTA)
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Canadian teenage sensation Bianca Andreescu pulled off a Miami Open great escape by fighting back from a set and match point down to beat a dazed Irina-Camelia Begu 4-6 7-6(2) 6-2 in the first round on Thursday.

The 18-year-old who stunned the tennis world last week by winning her first career title at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells raised eyebrows again with a gritty and spirited comeback that underscored her status as a rising star.

Only three women - Steffi Graf, Kim Clijsters and Victoria Azarenka - have completed the ‘Sunshine Double’, winning both Indian Wells and Miami back-to-back, and Begu had looked ready to make sure Andreescu would not add her name to that list.

With 28-year-old Romanian Begu a set up and leading 5-1 in the second the Canadian appeared headed for an early exit but refused to go down quietly.

Fighting off a match point at 5-2, the steely nerved teenager went on the attack by unleashing a barrage of drop shots and laser forehands to sweep five straight games from her crumbling opponent to force the second into a tiebreak.

By then the damage had been done, with a distraught and flustered Begu meekly surrendering the tiebreak.

At the changeover the 70th-ranked Romanian slumped into her chair and hid under a towel in an attempt to regain composure but when the action resumed little had changed as the surging Andreescu opened the deciding set with a break.

It proved to be the death blow from which Begu never recovered as a ruthless Andreescu closed out the contest in business-like fashion to book a second-round meeting with American Sofia Kenin.

The victory was a promising omen for 24th-ranked Andreescu who two weeks earlier beat Begu in a tough three-setter in the opening round at Indian Wells to spark her run to the title.

NO DRAMA

There was no such drama for third-seeded Czech Petra Kvitova who breezed into the third round with a straightforward 6-1 6-4 victory over Greece’s Maria Sakkari.

Three-times Miami Open champion Venus Williams was also in good form, lighting up center court by easing past Slovenian qualifier Dalila Jakupovic 7-5 6-3 as both the sun and the fans returned to the tournament.

Venus Williams hits a forehand against Dalila Jakupovic (not pictured) in the first round of the Miami Open at Miami Open Tennis Complex, Miami Gardens, FL, USA, Mar 21, 2019. (Photo: USA TODAY Sports)

After two days of almost constant rain, Williams’ match on the 13,800 temporary stadium court kicked off a busy day as organizers scrambled to get back on schedule after rain washed away three of the first four sessions.

A move from cramped quarters at Crandon Park on picturesque Key Biscayne to the wide open spaces provided by acres of parking lots that surround the tournament’s new home at Hard Rock Stadium aims to give the Miami Open a bright new future.

Finally some of that potential shone through as people filled the spacious fanzone, generating some badly needed buzz.

Williams did her best to get the party rolling by overcoming a sluggish start to book her spot in the second round.

Trailing 5-4 in the opener, Williams stepped up a gear to sweep the next six games, breaking three times to claim the first set before jumping 3-0 ahead in the second.

Reuters