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Teen Bianca thrilled with chance to halt Serena bid


Showdown: Bianca Andreescu after reaching final
Showdown: Bianca Andreescu after reaching final
Serena Williams

By Andy Sims

Bianca Andreescu reflected on a "crazy" year as she prepared to face Serena Williams in tonight's US Open final.

Just 12 months ago Andreescu lost in the first round of qualifying at Flushing Meadows and was ranked 208 in the world.

Even ESPN pundit Pam Shriver admitted "I don't think I'd heard of you" as she greeted the 19-year-old on court following her semi-final win over Belinda Bencic.

But Andreescu, still ranked a lowly 152 at the start of the year, has now joined Shriver and Venus Williams as the only women to make the final on their main draw debut.

"Had someone told me last year that I'd be in this final I don't think I would have believed them," said the Canadian, seeded 15th.

"I was ranked, like, outside 150, I think. It's just crazy what a year can do.

"In fact if someone would have said that a couple of weeks ago, I don't think I would have believed them.

"I've always wanted to play Serena. I remember always telling my team I wanted to play her right before she retires.

"I'm really looking forward to it. She's an amazing champion on and off the court. It's going to be fun.

"I've always dreamt of this moment ever since I was a little kid. But I don't think many people would have actually thought that it would become a reality.

"I fought really hard to get to this point, so I really think I deserve to be in the final.

"I watched her win most of her grand slam titles. She's fighting for her 24th (tonight). I'm sure she's going to bring her 'A' game.

"I'm going to try to bring my 'A' game, too. Hopefully, I guess, may the best player win.

"It's just surreal. It's a dream come true playing against Serena in the final of the US Open. It's crazy," she added.

Andreescu took a tight first set against 13th seed Bencic, of Switzerland, on a tie-break and then came from two breaks down to snatch the second for a 7-6 (3) 7-5 win.

Williams steamrollered Elina Svitolina 6-3 6-1 to reach her fourth major final since becoming a mother two years ago.

The 37-year-old lost the previous three - that acrimonious match with Naomi Osaka here last year and two Wimbledon finals - meaning she remains tantalisingly one short of Margaret Court's record tally of 24 major titles.

On this form and in this mood - and barring another 2018-style meltdown - she does not look like falling short again.

But Williams said: "I think it was solid. It definitely wasn't my best tennis. She probably could have played better as well. I definitely know I could have played better.

"I'm just focusing on not that, just the next match, added Williams.

The victory was her 101st at the US Open, matching the record held by Chris Evert.

"That's pretty cool. I didn't know that was even an option," she added.

"That always makes it even more special when you hear those super cool things without even knowing."

Earlier, Svitolina had boyfriend Gael Monfils - who reached the quarter-finals - firing down serves at her on the practice court beforehand to prepare for the power of Williams, and had a clear game plan to move the American around the court.

But Williams crashed 34 winners past the Ukrainian fifth seed, who beat Britain's Johanna Konta in the quarter-finals.

Svitolina, also a semi-finalist at Wimbledon this year, said: "That's why she is who she is.

"You are playing in front of the best tennis player in the world," she added. "If you don't take it, she just grabs it and there's no chance to take it back."

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