Bianca Andreescu is the best in the world — it's just not official (yet)
The hottest player in tennis faces a tough road to No. 1 ranking
Two days later, Canada is still buzzing about Bianca Andreescu's historic win over Serena Williams in the U.S. Open final.
Not only did the 19-year-old become the first Canadian tennis player to win a Grand Slam singles title; she did it by beating the greatest female player of all time. In straight sets. In front of a massive New York City crowd that was very much behind Williams. (Leading to Andreescu, in true stereotypical Canadian fashion, apologizing to them for destroying their favourite player).
Andreescu is the first woman to win the title in her U.S. Open debut, and the first player born in the 2000s to win a tennis Slam. You can debate exactly where this ranks, but it's unquestionably one of the greatest moments in Canadian sports history. Let's look at what's next for Canada's new favourite athlete:
On Monday, Andreescu climbed 10 spots to No. 5 in the new world rankings.
The rankings take into account the previous 52 weeks, and this time last year Andreescu was a complete unknown who had just lost in the first round of qualifying for the U.S. Open. She was ranked 210th in the world. So some of the old Andreescu is still baked into her ranking.
Fast forward a year and Andreescu is the hottest player in tennis. Despite missing basically four months due to a shoulder injury, she's won more prize money (north of $6 million US) in 2019 than any other woman and she's tied for the most tournament wins with three. They're all impressive titles too: a Slam and two other high-end events, in Indian Wells, Calif., and Toronto, where she faced tough competition. Andreescu is now 8-0 against top-10 players.
If you throw out two losses she suffered when that shoulder injury forced her out of matches, she's won 24 in a row. No one has truly beaten her since March 1. Bottom line: if she stepped onto the court today against any other player, Andreescu would be the betting favourite in that match.
It'll be tough to reach No. 1 by the end of the year, though.
There are only two months left in the season. Australia's Ash Barty is the current No. 1 player, and she leads Andreescu by 1,666 points. To put that in perspective, a Grand Slam title gets you 2,000. Andreescu's next-biggest tournament win — Indian Wells — was worth 1,000. Her Rogers Cup win was worth 900. So to reach No. 1, Andreescu would probably have to go very deep in more tournaments before the season ends in early November and hope Barty goes out early in some. And she still has to worry about the other three players ahead of her too. That's a tall order.
With the Grand Slams done, the biggest tournament left is the final one.
That's the Women's Tennis Association Finals, which start Oct. 28 in China. Only the top eight players in the world are invited. They're separated into two groups and play a round-robin to decide who advances to the semifinals. Every win is worth rankings points, and if a player can go undefeated en route to winning the title, she'll get a total of 1,500 points — and $4.7 million, which would be the most prize money ever awarded to one player in a tennis event.
Besides that, there's only one 1,000-point tournament left and one 900-pointer, plus a bunch of lesser events. Andreescu is on fire right now, but she's running out of runway to climb to No. 1. She seemed to acknowledge that when she told an interviewer after her U.S. Open win that her goal for the end of the year is to win the WTA Finals and finish in the top three in the rankings. Which, let's remember, is impressive for someone who ended last year ranked No. 178.
When will we see Andreescu next?
She's taking this week off, but it's possible she competes as soon as next week's Pan Pacific Open in Japan. That's still up in the air, but the 470-point tournament was promoting her as a participant on its Twitter account as recently as Sunday.
After that come back-to-back high-end events in China: the 900-point Wuhan Open (starting Sept. 23) and the 1,000-point China Open (Sept. 30). There's a good chance Andreescu will play in both.
If you're wondering about international play, it'll have to wait until next year. Canada was eliminated a few months ago from the 2019 Fed Cup, which is the top international event for women.
And don't forget: the Olympics are coming up next summer in Tokyo. Spots aren't decided until closer to the Games, but Andreescu should be a lock to represent Canada as long as she's healthy and willing to play.
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