Bianca Andreescu gets past ‘insane’ game in crazy set to defeat Emma Raducanu, advance in Miami Open

Tribune Content Agency

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Bianca Andreescu, the 2019 U.S. Open champion from Canada, refused to let an “insane” 25-point, 22-minute, six-break-point game define her Wednesday at the Miami Open.

So, after the 22-year-old lost that game and the next to force a deciding third set against 2021 U.S. Open champion Emma Raducanu, the spirited Andreescu sucked it up, engaged in some considerable self-talk and surged forward to win her opening match 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 at Hard Rock Stadium.

Raducanu, 19, said Wednesday that her wrist has been bothering her. She fought hard in the 2-hour, 33-minute match but couldn’t overcome losing 11 of 12 break points to a more proficient Andreescu.

“I just kept telling myself it’s not over till it’s over because sometimes I tend to get maybe too ahead of myself, so I try to stay in the present moment and try not to drain my energy because that game was insane,’’ said Andreescu, No. 31 in the world after a career-high of No. 4. “I don’t think I’ve ever played a game like that in my life.”

“What I did well was just sticking with it … because it could have went either way. I just held in the points, tried to be aggressive when I could and my serve went well. I hit seven aces, which is very rare for me, and no double faults — so I’m very pleased.”

Not so pleased was World No. 1 and Miami Open defending champion Iga Swiatek, who withdrew from the tournament Wednesday because of a rib injury.

“It was a very difficult decision to make, but I have no doubts that health is the most important,’’ Swiatek posted on Twitter before speaking to the media.

Swiatek’s withdrawal wouldn’t affect Andreescu unless she makes it to the final, as the two were on opposite sides of the draw. Miami has been good to Andreescu, who reached the 2021 Miami Open final but retired to former top-ranked Ash Barty in the second set after she twisted her right foot and aggravated a stress fracture. She is now 9-2 in Miami Open matches.

Andreescu was born in Canada but has Romanian parents and lived in Romania for almost three years as a child before returning to Ontario. As a teenager, she won back-to-back Orange Bowl Under-16 and Under-18 titles at the Veltri Tennis Center in Plantation. She became the first player to win the consecutive titles since Mary Joe Fernandez in 1984 and ‘85.

“Miami has a special place in my heart,’’ Andreescu said. “I’ve been coming here since I was 12 years old, whether it’s for vacation or training or the Orange Bowl — I love that tournament very much. Coming back here, it’s just good vibes overall.”

Andreescu practices “creative visualization” and meditates daily.

“It’s a part of my daily routine and I don’t think I’ve missed one in three or four years. I’ve been very diligent with it, which isn’t always easy but it’s changed my life completely,” she said. “I encourage everybody to try it out — everybody.’’

She also is an avid watcher of reality TV shows, and reeled off “Love is Blind,” “Perfect Match” and “Love Island.’’

“Anything with love,’’ she said, laughing.

Her next opponent in Friday’s second round: seventh-ranked Maria Sakkari (Greece), who lost to second-ranked Aryna Sabalenka in the Indian Wells semifinal. Andreescu has split two three-set matches with Sakkari in her career, including in the semifinal of the ‘21 Miami Open. Out of six sets, four have ended in tiebreakers.

“Playing Maria in the next round is going to be very difficult,’’ Andreescu said. “She’s been playing very well and we’ve had two very tough matches, so hopefully we can put on a show for you guys.’’

Other matches

— In other Miami Open women’s matches Wednesday, Sofia Kenin defeated qualifier Storm Hunter 6-4, 7-6 (7-5). Kenin moved from Russia to Pembroke Pines as a toddler and won the 2020 Australian Open; and 2021 U.S. Open finalist Leylah Fernandez (Canada) defeated Lesia Tsurenko (Ukraine) 6-4, 6-3.

— In men’s matches, Dusan Lajovic (Serbia) defeated two-time tournament champion Andy Murray (Great Britain) 6-4, 7-5.

— Scheduled late matches included the all-U.S. matches of Sloan Stephens vs. Shelby Rogers, and Emilio Nava vs. 2018 Miami Open champion John Isner.