Andreescu edges Anisimova, Jabeur flips script on Kenin under Miami lights
Sunday’s night session at the Miami Open saw Bianca Andreescu win a much-anticipated first professional meeting against Amanda Anisimova, and Ons Jabeur flip the script in the latest chapter of her recent rivalry with Sofia Kenin.
Despite being peers and foes in the junior ranks, 2019 US Open champion Andreescu and 2019 French Open semifinalist Anisimova had never before played as professionals, but their first meeting proved one to remember: in a titanic two hours and 45 minutes, Canadian edged a 7-6(5), 6-7(2), 6-4 affair to reach the round of 16.
“My game, I know that it can be better, but I’m trying to find ways to push through on my off days, and I think I’m doing that well,” Andreescu assessed after the match.
“I think that’s what makes a really good player, and I’m trying to be that really good player like I was in 2019. I did that today, and I just want to fight and give it my all and then the rest will come.”
Andreescu needed over an hour to seal a one-set lead in the encounter, as Anisimova saved all 10 break points she faced across four service games in the opener.
From 7-6(5), 2-0 up, Andreescu found herself headed for a final set as Anisimova played her best tennis in the closing stages of the second, even after receiving medical attention for blisters on her hand. The American twice held serve to stay in it, trailing 5-4 and 6-5, and won five of the first six points of the ensuing tiebreak.
After she also received a medical timeout when trailing 2-1, the decisive break for Andreescu came in the fifth game of the final set, and she was never challenged on serve from then on.
In all, the Canadian dropped just four points on serve in the decider, and held at love to seal the match.
“I felt very good mentally before the match, and then on the court I felt really good. It’s hard playing a player that she’s super erratic. She just slaps every ball, but she slaps it very well. I don’t want to say that in a bad way. But she’s a really good player,” Andreescu said.
“It was tough. I was getting to a lot of balls I thought I couldn’t even get to. But that just shows that all the preparation that I’m putting in is really paying off.”
Andreescu will have a quick turnaround up next as she faces Garbiñe Muguruza on Monday evening for a spot in the quarterfinals. The Canadian dominated in the pair’s last meeting at a WTA 1000 event, a 6-0, 6-1 win in Indian Wells in 2019 – a tournament that Andreescu went on to win.
“I’m going to do my best with treatment, best with food, best with sleep, all that stuff. I have been here before. I have played tough matches like this [and] had to play the next day, so I kind of know what to expect,” Andreescu said.
“I have to be on my A-game tomorrow because I know Muguruza is very tough to play.”
Earlier in the evening, Jabeur, previously 0-4 against Kenin at WTA main-draw level and 0-8 in sets, struck 40 winners and 11 aces to earn her third career win over a Top 5 player and advance to a fourth-round meeting with in-form Spaniard Sara Sorribes Tormo.
The Tunisian looked as though she might lose out to Kenin for the fifth time in the past two years when she fell behind 3-1 in the final set, but rallied to win five of the last six games to close out a 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 win in one hour and 47 minutes.
“It was an amazing match today. Honestly, I tried to play my game and play to take my revenge because I’ve been losing a lot against Sofia,” Jabeur said after the match.
“She’s such an amazing player, but I was there, I was confident, I wanted to win and really play well and play my game. I’m so proud that I won today. It’s been amazing here in Miami. I’ve been practicing hard… and I’ve just been trying to get back to the best game that I can be playing.”
Jabeur and Sorribes Tormo have played five times between ITF and WTA tournaments dating back to 2013, with the Tunisian victorious four times. They last played in the first round of qualifying for the 2019 Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome in 2019, where Jabeur won, 6-0, 6-2.
“Tomorrow is going to be a very difficult match. Sorribes is playing really good lately and she’s been winning a lot of matches,” Jabeur said.
“She’s a good friend of mine on tour, and honestly, I love playing her. I love the way she playing. I have to be ready physically and mentally to win, and hopefully, the journey will continue for me.”