If I’m being honest, I never thought I’d see a Canadian tennis player win a Grand Slam title. Sure, I hoped and watched with earnest every time a Canadian made a deep run at a major, but with tempered expectations.
For years, I would cheer for Milos Raonic at slams with the thought that if he makes a quarter-final it would be exciting and a win for Canadians.
Raonic has been an active player on the ATP for nine years, and while he has made the quarters in a major tournament nine times, which is more than I realized, he’s only made one final. He certainly didn’t win that final, and by missing three of the last eight slams due to injury, its unlikely he will ever win one.
Which is OK — tennis tournaments are really hard to win. On the men’s side, it seems like only three players can ever win, and on the women’s side, which is more open, I was too haunted by Eugenie Bouchard’s facade of a top-five career.
Still, as the 2019 U.S. Open began, I believed that Bianca Andreescu could make it pretty far, either the fourth round or the quarter-final. After winning her second-round match, I looked at the draw and decided she should go all the way to the semi-final, and eventually lose to Naomi Osaka.
However, when Osaka lost, and as Andreescu kept winning, there was no denying that Andreescu was the favourite from her half of the draw to go all the way to the final, and the only player who could beat Serena Williams.
Sports are hardly predictable, but this year’s tournament kind of was. That’s not a knock on the product. Rather, it was incredibly exciting, especially in the final.
With Williams trying to win her 24th Grand Slam title in the U.S. Open final for the second straight year, Andreescu showed more poise in a two-hour match than I’ve showed in my entire life.
When the young Canadian began to let her 5-1 lead in the second set slip, I slowly accepted the fact that she would lose the set and probably the match. That’s terrible, I know, and I’m fairly ashamed, but come on, who can really blame me?
Except that’s not what happened. Andreescu not only won the set 6-4, but she broke Williams in the final game to do so. The entire crowd was against her, but it didn’t matter. Then, after receiving the trophy, instead of holding it in the air and screaming like every athlete does ever, she just grinned — it wasn’t even a full smile — as if it was a chore she needed to do for the press. Like I said, poise.
If that’s what it takes to win a Grand Slam tennis tournament, so be it, and I’m glad she has that quality. Still, I’m hesitant to think Andreescu will make winning Wimbledon and the U.S. Open a habit, or that more Canadians will rise up to become champions.
Not because I don’t think they can, but because we didn’t get to this point by seeing the expected unfold. And, if I’m being honest, it’s better that way.
Email sports reporter Dillon Giancola at firstname.lastname@example.org.