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US Open title caps Andreescu dream year

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Bianca Andreescu holds aloft the US Open trophy after winning her maiden Grand Slam title. (AFP)

Canadian teenager Bianca Andreescu said Saturday’s US Open final victory over 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams was a “dream come true.”

The 19-year-old defeated six-time US Open winner Williams 6-3, 7-5 to become Canada’s first Grand Slam singles champion, and the youngest Slam titlist since Maria Sharapova in 2006.

“It’s so hard to explain in words but I’m just beyond grateful and truly blessed. I’ve worked really, really hard for this moment,” Andreescu said.

“This year has been a dream come true. Being able to play on this stage against Serena, a true legend of the sport, is amazing.

“It wasn’t easy at all. I tried to prepare my best like I do every match, I tried not to focus on who I’m playing. I’m really proud of how I dealt with everything.”

Her triumph at Flushing Meadows capped a remarkable 12 months for 15th seed Andreescu, who was ranked outside the top 200 this time last year after falling short in US Open qualifying for the second season in a row.

“Last year wasn’t an easy period in my life with injuries but I persevered and told myself not to give up,” she said.

“I just keep telling myself keep working hard and keep the momentum. Hopefully I can keep going.”

Williams, 37, suffered a second finals loss in a row at Flushing Meadows, after a 2018 defeat against Naomi Osaka best remembered for a furious tirade against chair umpire Carlos Ramos.

Appearing in a 33rd Grand Slam final, and fourth since the last of her 23 major titles, Williams made an inauspicious start at Arthur Ashe Stadium by conceding her opening service game with successive double faults.

Andreescu, who wasn’t even born when Williams won her maiden Slam at the 1999 US Open, responded with a comfortable hold, a pattern that repeated itself until the Canadian threatened to run away with the opening set.

Serving at 2-4, Williams erased five break points with a combination of aces and booming groundstrokes but Andreescu was knocking on the door once more as the American served to stay in the set.

A forehand winner earned the youngster a set point, and Williams duly her gifted her the opener with another double fault.

Andreescu’s confidence continued to flow as she surged 2-0 ahead in the second — Williams again doubled-faulting on break point.

The American carved out four opportunities to hit back the following game, benefiting from a huge stroke of luck when a forehand brushed the tape and trickled over to haul herself back on serve.

Undeterred Andreescu promptly regained the initiative with another break and looked to be marching towards the title when she followed a routine hold by again breaking the Williams serve for a 5-1 lead.

Andreescu brought up championship point in the ensuing game, but Williams smacked a forehand winner to stay alive and then rattled off 14 of 17 points to peg her opponent back at 5-all.

The Canadian stemmed the bleeding by holding for 6-5 and an errant Williams backhand handed Andreescu two more shots at the title. Williams saved the first with an ace but Andreescu secured victory on the next with a blistering forehand return.

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