“The bigger the occasion, the bigger she hits,” Bianca Andreescu’s coach said before the Canadian’s US Open final victory. Sylvain Bruneau was talking about the 19-year-old, but it could have equally applied to Serena Williams, her opponent, at pretty much any point over the past 20 years. But something has changed in Grand Slam finals of late.
For Williams to reach the 2018 Wimbledon final, just 10 months after her traumatic experience in labour, was nothing short of miraculous. And for the American to do the same at last year’s US Open, with very few matches in between, was another phenomenal feat. Angelique Kerber and Naomi Osaka played extremely well to win those finals, Simona Halep was exceptional in this year’s Wimbledon final, and the poise, belief and skill of Andreescu at Flushing Meadows on Saturday was quite something to watch.
A growing group of players now believe they have what it takes to beat the 23-time Grand Slam champion – who is one short of Australian Margaret Court’s all-time record – when a trophy is on the line.