What a year this has been as both the Toronto Raptors and Andreescu authored two major Canadian sports firsts within a span of only a few months.
In hockey terms, these twin events have been akin to how Americans celebrated Team U.S.A. in the Miracle on Ice in 1980. There should be a Bianca movie about this moment.
Toronto can be forgiven if it now thinks it’s at the center of the sporting universe.
“It’s something in the water,” Matt Vong, an engineer from Vancouver who lives in New York, told The New York Times. “The Raptors and now Bianca. It is kind of similar. They showed zero fear.”
People will remember where they were when the Raptors won the NBA championship in June.
And now people will remember where they were when Andreescu became the first Canadian to win a Grand Slam singles tennis title (Daniel Nestor has won multiple Grand Slam doubles titles).
It’s impossible to answer, but what sporting achievement was more improbable: The Raptors becoming the first team outside the United States to win the NBA championship, or Andreescu, who didn’t even qualify for the main draw of the U.S. Open a year ago, beating the best women’s player in tennis history?
Perhaps the Raptors get the nod here because they’ve struggled for much longer than the 19-year-old Andreescu and the build-up to their success took the nation on a rollercoaster ride for longer than Andreescu did for tennis fans in Canada.
The Raptors had to go through the dynasty of the Golden State Warriors, while Andreescu had to go through Williams, who will go down as the greatest female tennis player ever.
He’s 38 but Roger Federer maintains more grand slam chances await despite confessing to a “missed opportunity” after blowing a two-sets-to-one advantage in a shock US Open quarter-final defeat.
Clearly hindered, a gracious Federer refused to blame a back issue for his 3-6 6-4 3-6 6-4 6-2 collapse against Grigor Dimitrov, a rival he’d not lost to in seven previous meetings.
“Physically, yeah, I felt it the whole time. That’s it. I was able to play with it. My bad not to win,” said Federer, who all but surrendered while dropping four games to fall behind 4-0 in the deciding set immediately after requiring a medical timeout.
But while Federer seemed to go through the motions in the fifth set, he never considered stopping for the first time in his 1494-match career, despite feeling uncomfortable during his warm-up on Tuesday afternoon.
Federer, though, vowed, to continue fighting to add to his record haul of 20 grand slam men’s singles titles.
Women’s tennis continues to add fresh talent, with five players age 24 or younger remaining in the U.S. Open. At the start of the season, no one had thought Bianca Andreescu would be one of them.
Then she went berserk.
Before this year began, Andreescu, now age 19, had played just one match at a major, back in 2017. But Andreescu is playing in the quarterfinals at the Open on Wednesday night, having gone from No. 178 at the end of 2018 all the way up to No. 14 this summer.
Andreescu has made a rapid rise from obscurity this year. She reached a final in New Zealand in the first tournament of the year. At the Australian Open, she won three qualifying matches and reached the second round. She won a title in Newport Beach and, in March, she won the prestigious Indian Wells tournament.
This season, Andreescu has been perfect against players in the top 10 (she’s 7-0). Andreescu defeated Karolina Pliskova, Svitolina and Kerber (Andreescu has beaten Kerber twice). Andreescu also has a lot of variety. Taylor Townsend upset Halep by attacking with volleys. Andreescu hit more shots in the middle, low and fast, and often went up to the net herself before Townsend could.
Federer, surely the most elegant and balletic athlete on the pro tennis circuit, is playing his 100th match at the US Open in 19 years is yet another marker of just how good Roger Federer has been — and for so long.
NEW YORK — Venus Williams still loves her job. And she’s still capable of doing it rather well.
Playing in the U.S. Open for the 21st time, tying Martina Navratilova’s record, Williams improved to 21-0 in first-round matches at Flushing Meadows by beating Zheng Saisai 6-1, 6-0 in all of 66 minutes in Louis Armstrong Stadium on Monday.
“I was happy with today,” Williams said, “so I’m not going to ask for more.”
Williams is a two-time champion in New York — back in 2000 and 2001 — and owns seven Grand Slam singles titles in all, along with another 14 in doubles. But she’s also 39.
Rod Laver: Roger, Rafa and Novak are three of my biggest champions. What Roger does on and off the court makes him a complete champion. He likes the game, this is how I feel when I see him competing. His amazing shot is the back. It’s unbelievale to see him play for such a long time.