Canadian 19-year-old Bianca Andreescu doesn’t walk around the court so much as she swaggers. She doesn’t just yell, “Come on!” and fist pump when she wins a big point; she’ll stare straight across the net at her opponent while she does it. She’ll toss her racket when she loses a point and impatiently smash the ball away when she wins a point. Her body language isn’t positive or negative so much as a relentless show of force. To watch her is to be convinced beyond doubt that she’s entitled to every point she wins and every point she loses. As longtime tennis writer Ben Rothenberg put it on Twitter, she “carries herself like more of an alpha than any WTA player I’ve seen come on the scene in quite some time.” And her game backs it up: Over her five singles matches so far at this year’s U.S. Open, Andreescu has notched 157 winners, 26 more than fellow power-hitting semifinalist Serena Williams, who she could very well meet in the final. Over the course of the season she’s gone 7-0 against top 10 players. She became the youngest woman to win Indian Wells since Serena in 1999. In March, she beat three-time grand slam winner Angelique Kerber twice in one week and got under her skin in the process. Though she took much of the summer off to recover from shoulder surgery, she’s 43-4 on the year, and still rolling.
Last night, Andreescu came from a set down to beat Elise Mertens (3-6, 6-2, 6-3). On Monday night, she beat American Taylor Townsend (6-1, 4-6, 6-2) in a rollercoaster of a match that peaked when she threw her racket halfway across the court after double-faulting early in the third set.
Before that she beat former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki in straight sets in the third round, and she easily handled Kirsten Flipkens and Katie Volynets in the second and first rounds, respectively.
And now, a year after she lost in the first round of U.S. Open qualifying, Andreescu is into the semifinals. Tonight she’ll face Belinda Bencic, the Swiss 22-year-old whose game is tailor-made for an aggressive, powerful opponent like Andreescu. Bencic took down defending champion Naomi Osaka in straight sets in the fourth round by absorbing and redirecting Osaka’s pace. Andreescu has never played Bencic in a match, but said that they practiced together in Toronto.
“I found that she takes the ball really early, she likes to be very aggressive, she has a very good serve,” Andreescu said of Bencic. “She moves pretty well too, so I’m going to do my best to just focus on myself mainly and just keep doing what I’m doing because I think my game is throwing off a lot of players.”
Off the court, Andreescu is personable, even sweet. Before this tournament, she was probably best known for comforting an injured and crying Serena Williams after Serena retired from the Rogers Cup final. On the court, she offers no such comforts.