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Wildcard Bianca Andreescu, 18, shocks Angelique Kerber to win Indian Wells

The Guardian logo The Guardian 17/03/2019 Press Association

Bianca Andreescu completed her emergence as the latest new star of women’s tennis after a scintillating three-set win over Angelique Kerber in the final of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells. The 18-year-old Canadian fought off exhaustion and held her nerve to triumph 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 over the three-time grand-slam champion, becoming the first wildcard winner of the prestigious event. Her $1.35m winner’s cheque dwarfs her previous career earnings of $350,000.

“This moment has become a reality so it’s really, really crazy,” Andreescu told the crowd after her victory. With her victory she followed in the footsteps of Naomi Osaka, who was a little-known 20-year-old when she won the title last year. Osaka used it as a springboard to win the US and Australian Opens while ascending to the No1 ranking in January.

Related: Dominic Thiem upsets Roger Federer at Indian Wells for first Masters title

Andreescu’s explosive attacks and unpredictable shot choices had endeared her to the Indian Wells crowd in a week in which she saw off a series of higher-ranked players including Garbine Muguruza and Elina Svitolina. And the world No60 showed few early signs of nerves against Kerber, whom she broke in the opening game of the match before serving out to take the first set.

Eighth seed Kerber began to swing the match her way in the second set as she built on an early break while Andreescu told her coach she was feeling the effects of fatigue. When Andreescu was broken by Kerber early in the deciding set it seemed her remarkable week looked set to end in disappointment.

But from 3-2 and a break down, Andreescu had one last twist in store as she reeled off three straight games to set her up to serve for the title with a 5-3 lead. Kerber used all her experience to fight off three match points and when the German took advantage of an Andreescu mistake to break back, it seemed that the momentum had once again swung her way. Andreescu’s riposte was remarkable though, as she responded immediately by fashioning her fourth championship point on the Kerber serve, converting it with a strong return before falling to the court in triumph.

With the win, Andreescu, who was ranked 152 at the end of last season, is expected to reach the WTA top 30.

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