“Queen of the Desert”: A Teenager’s Magical Fairy-Tale Run to Win the Indian Wells Masters Title

Andrew Butler, Staff Reporter

Andreescu smiles with the BNP Paribas Open, commonly known as the Indian Wells Masters, trophy.

Bianca Andreescu. A name most people, even tennis fans, hardly knew has now become well-known in the tennis world for all of the right reasons.

The 18-year-old tennis player who hails from a small town in Ontario, Canada, has become this year’s “Queen of the Desert”. Winning her maiden WTA title at the Indian Wells Masters, one of the biggest stages of the tennis circuit, the rising star has a lot to be proud of.

Receiving a wildcard to start her debut at the open, Andreescu found herself in a tough bracket against some of the world’s best tennis players. In the first round, she narrowly defeated Romanian Irina-Camelia Begu 6-7, 6-3, 6-3 in a nail-biting three-set battle. In the second round, she faced Slovak Dominika Cibulkova, a former world Top 5 player, the 2016 WTA Finals champion, and finalist at the 2014 Australian Open. Despite competing against a veteran player with a fast-paced and aggressive style of play, the Canadian overpowers the #32-ranked Slovak 6-2, 6-2. Into the third round, she breezes through Swiss player Stefanie Voegele 6-1, 6-2 with five aces and 79% win percentage on the first serve.

At this point of the tournament, both tennis commentators and viewers quickly realized that Andreescu would be this year’s Cinderella story at the Indian Wells Masters. In the fourth round, she battled past #18-ranked Chinese player Qiang Wang 7-5, 6-2 to book herself in the quarterfinals. With the final eight players remaining in the bracket, Andreescu found herself playing against #20-ranked Spaniard Garbiñe Muguruza, a former world No. 1 and two-time Grand Slam Champion at the 2016 French Open and Wimbledon in 2017. This match proved essential to Andreescu’s confidence after she crushes Muguruza in a flawless 6-1, 6-0 performance, booking her a spot in the semifinals.

With four remaining in the tournament, the 18-year-old phenom played against one of the best players on the tour, Elina Svitolina. Ranked #6 in the world, the Ukrainian has had a successful season so far, making it to the semifinals of the Qatar Open and Dubai Tennis Championships and the quarterfinals of the 2019 Australian Open. In a show-stopping battle, Andreescu upset Svitolina 6-3, 2-6, 6-4, continuing her Cinderella run to the biggest final of her season and career.

In the championship, the teenager faced against the No. 8 seed German player Angelique Kerber. The three-time Grand Slam champion, including being the reigning Wimbledon champion last year, and a former world No. 1, the odds were set in Kerber’s favor. But fans knew that Andreescu’s success wouldn’t end in this match. In two hours and eighteen minutes, the Canadian rising star stunned the German 6-4. 3-6, 6-4, finishing her dream fortnight to win her first-ever WTA singles title at the Indian Wells Masters.

Kerber (left) quickly shakes hands with Andreescu (right) after their championship match before leaving the stadium.

Despite being a dark horse player at the tournament, her success was not surprising. She started her 2019 season in style, making it to the main draw of the Auckland Open in New Zealand as a qualifier after surviving three tough rounds of the Qualifiers draw. There, she defeated several notable players, including No. 1 seed Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark 6-4, 6-4; No. 6 seed Venus Williams, a seven-time Grand Slam Champion and sister of Serena Williams, 6-7, 6-1, 6-3; and the Taiwanese No. 3 seed Hsieh Su-Wei 6-3, 6-3, to reach her first finals in any tournament. In the end, she lost in a close three-set battle to No. 2 seed Julia Goerges of Germany 2-6, 7-5, 1-6.

In the Mexican Open in Acapulco, she reached the semifinals with victories over No. 4 seed Romanian player Michaela Buzarnescu and No. 7 seed Zheng Saisai of China before falling to No. 5 seed American player Sonia Kenin in a tight three-set match 6-4, 3-6, 7-5.

Entering the Indian Wells Tournament as the world No. 60, the Canadian ended up becoming the world No. 24, with the Indian Wells Masters trophy in hand and $1.354 million in prize money.

After her magical fairy-tale run at the tournament, it is evident that Bianca Andreescu, the “Queen of the Desert”, will be a notable tennis player in the future. And as an 18-year old who only turned professional two years ago, both fans and players know that she has a bright career ahead of her.