INDIAN WELLS, Calif. – Bianca Andreescu had faced Switzerland’s Stefanie Voegele once, on the practice court in Australia earlier this year.
The 18-year-old Canadian remembered she had to stop because of her aching back. But she recalls the Swiss veteran taking the ball earlier and hitting harder.
But that was practice. The real thing happened Sunday. And Andreescu was all over her in an emphatic 6-1, 6-2 victory that puts the teenager in the round of 16 at the BNP Paribas Open.
Andreescu has rolled through the draw in impressive fashion so far. Her toughest test was the first one, against Romania’s Irina-Camelia Begu – a former top 30 player whose ranking might be down, but whose quality remains high.
After losing the first set in a tiebreak, she won the next two. And then she routined No. 32 seed Dominika Cibulkova, a former Australian Open and Rogers Cup finalist and top-10 player.
Both those players have better resumés than Andreescu. But youth, confidence and current form are powerful equalizers.
In Voegele’s case, it was simply a difference in level.
Here’s what Andreescu had to say after the win.
Andreescu: a wild card gone wild
Andreescu is making great use of the wild card she was given into the tournament after reaching the semifinals at the WTA event in Acapulco the previous week.
On her ranking at the start of Indian Wells, she would have been in on her own merits. But there is a six-week advance deadline for entry.
The ranking points at this tournament are slow to come – only 65 points through the third round. But now, it gets exponential.
Andreescu will have gained three or four spots so far. But if she can defeat No. 18 seed Qiang Wang on Tuesday, she will surely jump into the top 50.
Wang is another player with a better resumé, but who is not in the same form that saw her leap into the top 20 last fall.
The 27-year-old Chinese player reached the third round of the Australian Open. But she didn’t play after that – until she entered the Oracle Challenger event the week before the main event at Indian Wells.
She didn’t win it. Wang lost to Viktorija Golubic in the semifinals. But her 7-6, 6-7, 6-3 win over No. 16 seed Elise Mertens in the third round this week was an impressive one.
Halep took notice
Andreescu’s idol – no surprise – is Romania’s Simona Halep.
The former (and perhaps future) No. 1 has always believed in Andreescu’s potential.
“I spoke to her a few years ago in Canada when we practiced once. I told her she has to stop playing juniors. She wanted to play more but I said she is ready go to the higher level. As we see, she’s doing great,” Halep said, per the WTA’s Insider.
“I think she’s running very well. I think she’s hitting the ball strong and she’s a good fighter, which gives her a better level. I’m sure she can improve a lot and be in the better ranking soon.”