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By Richard Pagliaro | Sunday, March 26, 2023


In a clash of Grand Slam champions, Bianca Andreescu carved out a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Sofia Kenin on Hard Rock Stadium court.

Photo credit:  Matthew Calvis

MIAMI—Admitted reality TV junkie Bianca Andreescu is creating must-see tennis TV in Miami.

Fans are enjoying Andreescu's proactive production value.

Warrior Week: Miami Open Best Photos

In a clash of Grand Slam champions, Andreescu carved out a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Sofia Kenin on Hard Rock Stadium court to cruise into the Miami Open round of 16 with her first straight-sets win of the week.

"She was serving well," Andreescu told Andrew Krasny afterward. "I was serving well as well. My serve in the key moments and my return was one of the things that got me through today."

Indeed, Andreescu continued a week of sharp serving.

The 2019 US Open champion served 70 percent, swatted 7 aces against 1 double fault and defended her second serve with confidence winning 11 of 17 points played on her second delivery.

Set the stats aside for a second and just watch Andreescu compete on court and you see one of the biggest factors in her South Florida resurgence: She's competing with genuine joy.

Of course, winning makes everyone happier. But remember, Andreescu missed the 2022 Australian Open to take a mental health hiatus after an apparent bout with depression.

These days, Andreescu is being kinder to herself on court and seems to be having more fun, too.

"I didn't feel like myself [last year]," Andreescu said in her on-court interview. "This year, I feel like I deserve to be here."

The biggest difference in her state of mind? Andreescu, who says she's practiced meditation daily for the last few years, feels life has gone from hectic to harmonious.

"I guess in my head it was very hectic, and some things around me as well have been kind of on edge, but now I finally feel like everything is harmonized," Andreescu told the media in Melbourne earlier this year. "I guess that's a good word to put."

All her shots were working in harmony as Andreescu improved to 9-6 on the season.

The 36th-ranked Andreescu is now 35-1 in her last 36 matches against opponents ranked outside the Top 100.

The 2019 US Open champion has played some of her most dynamic tennis of the season this year and will meet either Olympic gold-medal champion Belinda Bencic or No. 18-seeded Ekaterina Alexandrova next.

Pembroke Pines, Florida resident Kenin, who was bidding to win three matches in a row at a WTA 1000 event for the first time since 2019, saw her quest to reach a maiden Miami round of 16 fall short though she should take some confidence from her performance this week.

Three games into the match, Andreescu showed her flair for shifting speeds and spins mixing in some deep slice forehands and a couple of drop shots. That dose of arrhythmic tennis earned Andreescu the opening break in the third game.

Boredom inspired the bamboozling habit in Andreescu back when she was a kid playing in Canada.

"I love to change the rhythm when I can. I feel like I've been like that ever since I started playing tennis," Andreescu said. "It was because I would get bored on the court so I would just try different things, try to makeit entertaining.

"I just, like, continued like that throughout my professional career. It really, really helped. Sometimes it can put me in a pickle because I feel like I have so many shots to hit at one time that I kind of get distracted in a way or maybe hit the wrong shot.

"But I think it's been very effective, and I will continueplaying like this forever."

Dropping into an Agnieszka Radwanska-style crouch so low she was nearly kneeling, Andreescu repelled a deep return with a forehand net-cord that fell in as she backed up the break at 15 for 3-1. A clean Kenin forehand capped a love hold in the fifth game.

The Andreescu serve has been on point in South Florida this week. Andreescu dotted the service line with her fourth ace stretching the lead to 5-3 after 30 minutes.

The former world No. 4 served out the 38-minute opening set at 15. Facing a tough returner in Kenin, Andreescu served with authority, serving 80 percent, pumping five aces against no double faults and winning 20 of 25 points played on her serve in the first set. The Canadian major champion doubled the American major champion's winner total—14 to 7—in the first set.

Most of the set was played in sunny 85-degree temperatures though the on court temperature, considering only about 20 percent of the court was covered in shade at that time, must have been in the mid 90s.

Changing her socks after the opening set, Andreescu spent most changeovers with a black ice towel draped around her neck and an orange towel on her lap which she covered in loose ice cubes as cooling solution for her legs.

  When opportunity arose, Andreescu seized it. Creeping in to confront a Kenin second serve, Andreescu banged her backhand return crosscourt rattling out an error that flirted with the top of the tape for her second break and a 2-1 second-set lead.

Though the world No. 164 was striking the ball cleanly from the baseline, Kenin's biggest issue was an inability to keep the second serve out of Andreescu's strike zone when it mattered most. Timing her return impeccably, Andreescu stepped inside the baseline and buzzed a backhand return winner down the line, capping a love break for a 4-1 second-set lead. 

Of course, the crisp Kenin two-hander is one reason she is a major champion. She struck that stroke with ambition breaking right back at 15 in the sixth game, which prompted an affirmative nod from dad Alex Kenin.

That strong game sparked a spurt of aggression in the American who flowed forward for a couple of stinging drive volley winners closing the gap to 3-4.

When Kenin takes the ball on and uses her drive volley she not only can be a strong finisher, but she can reduce the range of creativity Andreescu can dispense forcing the Canadian to defend.

Still, Andreescu hung tough on serve.

Serving for the match, Andreescu zapped her seventh ace then used one final slice down the line to draw an error closing her second win over a Grand Slam champion in this tournament—she beat 2021 US Open winner Emma Raducanu in her opener—in one hour, 33 minutes.


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