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By Richard Pagliaro | Sunday, August 11, 2019

 
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Bianca Andreescu made history as the first Canadian woman to win the Rogers Cup in 50 years when Serena Williams retired with back spasms after 13 minutes of play.

Photo credit: Rogers Cup Facebook

A blockbuster final had Toronto buzzing.

Back spasms left Serena Williams bumming and Bianca Andreescu holding history in her hands.

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The 19-year-old Andreescu became the first Canadian woman to win the Rogers Cup in 50 years when the 37-year-old Williams retired with back spasms after 13 minutes of play.

"Serena, I know how it is to pull out of tournaments and be injured—it's not easy," Andreescu said during the trophy presentation. "This is not the way I expected to win. I watched you play so many times You are truly a champion on and off the court."




Andreescu is the first Canadian Rogers Cup champion since Faye Urban of Windsor, Ontario, won the 1969 Canadian Open.  

"I am speechless right now," Andreescu said. "I am the first Canadian who has won the tournament since 1969. This has been a dream come true. This week has not been easy. I've had many, many tough matches, especially what I've been through the last two months have not been easy.

"I tell myself never give up...I'm just truly, truly blessed right now."




The Canadian teenager held a 3-1 lead when a tearful Williams pulled the plug.

"Thank you guys," Williams, voice cracking, told the crowd while wiping tears away. "I'm sorry I couldn't today. I tried. I couldn't do it.

"Bianca you're a great sportswoman and thanks to my team. It's been a tough year, but we'll keep going."

Andreescu, who spent more than 11 hours on court reaching her hometown final, captured her second Premier-level championship following her victory over Angelique Kerber in the Indian Wells final last March.

After her bid for a 73rd career title came to a premature close, Williams said she had been bothered by back issues after her 1-6, 6-3 6-3, semifinal comeback victory over Czech qualifier Marie Bouzkova last night.

"It started yesterday in my match and it just got worse," Williams told the media in Toronto. "Just my whole back just completely spasmed, and to a point where I couldn't sleep and I couldn't really move.

"And so I was just trying to figure out, How do you play a match where you have no rotation?"

The 23-time Grand Slam champion, who was playing her first day match of the week, denied a break point to hold in the opening game.

Two games later, Williams floated a backhand beyond the baseline to face break point. Williams, who had pumped 23 aces in her quarterfinal and semifinal wins, spun a double fault into the tape to gift the break to her opponent, grimacing in the process.

"It's not easy for Serena, for sure, to pull out, especially to pull out in a final," Andreescu said. "I know how she feels because I've done that many times in my short career. But sometimes you just have to listen to your body.

"And, yeah, it's not the way I wanted to win, but a win is a win. So I'm really, really happy."

Andreescu backed up the break at 30 for 3-1 when Williams, sitting on her court-side seat, called it a day.

Conquering a pair of Grand Slam champions in the Indian Wells and Toronto finals, Andreescu is aiming to carry this confidence into New York for the US Open later this month.

"This has definitely got my confidence level up here, being able to deal with all the pressure and all the expectations from everyone," Andreescu said. "I'm just really proud with how I dealt with everything. And hopefully this win can give me momentum into the US Open."

 

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