INDIAN WELLS, Calif. – Bianca Andreescu has had a lot of “Wow, did that actually happen?” moments in 2019.
She began the season beating Caroline Wozniacki and Venus Williams – both Grand Slam champions and former No. 1s – in her opening tournament.
But making the quarterfinals of the BNP Paribas Open – a Premier Mandatory event, one step below the majors – was not on the radar.
And yet, the 18-year-old has made it look easy. From the outside, at least.
A 7-5, 6-2 victory over No. 18 seed Qiang Wang of China puts her in the final eight, to play No. 20 seed Garbiñe Muguruza of Spain Wednesday afternoon.
Andreescu has already defeated No. 32 seed Dominika Cibulkova and former top-30 player Irina-Camelia Begu on the way. If there’s a thread between those three impressive wins, is that Andreescu’s opponents were not playing the tennis they played when they have been at their very best.
That is true of Muguruza as well. The former French Open and Wimbledon champion has been a shadow of her former championship self in the last couple of years.
Here’s how Andreescu vs. Wang looked on Tuesday.
Muguruza getting back her best form?
The Spanish No. 1’s ranking hasn’t dropped precipitously. But she has had some bad losses – some cringe-worthy on-court coaching consults, and some injuries here and there.
Who knows what might have happened, had Muguruza faced a Serena Williams who was 100 per cent healthy in the round?
For all we know, Andreescu might have had an opportunity to share the stadium court with the greatest of all time. But the victory gave Muguruza wings, in a sense. And she was able to back it up with a comeback win over No. 7 seed Kiki Bertens in the fourth round.
Muguruza has only beaten one top-20 player over the last 12 months. That’s hard to believe, but it also means that as she has remained a seeded player more often than not, she’s not gotten to the pointy end of the bigger tournaments. That player was then-No. 11 Anastasija Sevastova, last October in Zhuhai.
In this tournament, she has beaten top-10 players back to back.
So the narrative of how the biggest match of Andreescu’s career is going to go will very much be dictated by which version of Muguruza shows up to play.
Andreescu had nothing but praise for Muguruza, while still feeling she has a shot.