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Bianca Andreescu crowned Rogers Cup champion as Serena Williams forced to retire with back injury in Toronto final

Hannah Wilks in WTA Tour 11 Aug 2019
  • Bianca Andreescu won the Rogers Cup title as Serena Williams retired
  • An upper back injury forced Williams to retire trailing 1-3 in the final in Toronto
Bianca Andreescu with the Rogers Cup trophy (PA Sports)

Bianca Andreescu was crowned the 2019 Rogers Cup champion after a back injury forced Serena Williams to retire.

The meteroric rise of Bianca Andreescu continues as the Canadian became the 2019 Rogers Cup champion.

The final of the 2019 Rogers Cup came to an abrupt and unexpected end after four games when Serena Williams retired trailing 1-3, resulting in Bianca Andreescu being crowned as the tournament’s first Canadian champion in 50 years.

Williams cries as she addresses the crowd after retiring (PA Sports)
Williams had looked on track for her first title since returning from maternity leave after winning four matches in a row at a non-major for the first time since the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in May 2016, and securing a first victory over Naomi Osaka in the quarterfinals.

Instead she was weeping into her chair less than 20 minutes into the final and Andreescu became the first Canadian to win the Rogers Cup since Faye Urban in 1969.

The 19-year-old will make her debut in the top 20 on Monday, with the world no. 1 ranking passing from Ashleigh Barty to Osaka despite the latter’s quarterfinal defeat.

It was a subdued ending to a remarkable week for Andreescu, who exploded on to the scene with an out-of-nowhere run to the Indian Wells title in March but was unable to compete from Miami in March until the French Open due to a shoulder injury, completed a solitary match at Roland Garros and then was forced to stay inactive until this week.

She beat fellow Canadian Eugenie Bouchard, former Indian Wells runner-up Daria Kasatkina, fifth seed Kiki Bertens, third seed Karolina Pliskova and Sofia Kenin, the rising American who had knocked out Barty, to reach the final of the Premier-5 event.

Williams made a slow start to the match but then she had done the same against qualifier Marie Bouzkova in the semifinals, eventually coming from a set down. 

On Sunday, however, matters were more serious than they appeared. Williams had to save a break point in her opening service game to get on the board, and missed a chance to push to deuce on Andreescu’s first service game when she netted a smash. 

Andreescu comforts Williams after the American retired (PA Sports)
At 1-1, Williams found her first two aces of the match at 0-15 and 15-30 and worked her way to game point, but was unable to convert and Andreescu broke on her third opportunity when the American served a double fault.

Despite two clean return winners from Williams in the next game, Andreescu consolidated the break to lead 3-1.

It was then that Williams took a seat and started to cry. The trainer and doctor came out to see her but after only the briefest of consultations, the American’s retirement was announced.

Andreescu came over to Williams’s bench, asking: ‘Are you OK? What happened?’ The two women had a conversation which was mostly inaudible, although Andreescu was heard trying to console Williams, calling her a ‘f**king beast’.

The same note was struck during the trophy ceremony when Andreescu told Williams: ‘I know what it’s like to be injured and have to withdraw from tournaments.’ She added: ‘You are a true champion on and off the court.’

Williams had struggled to speak at all through her tears, telling the crowd: ‘I’m sorry, I tried, I just couldn’t do it today.’ She called Andreescu ‘a great sportswoman’.

Andreescu was also able to be gleeful, telling the crowd: ‘This is just the beginning!’

The official reason given for Williams’s retirement was an upper back injury.

Afterwards, Williams told press: ‘It started yesterday in my match, and it just got worse. My whole back spasmed to the point where I couldn't really sleep.’

The American said she would still travel to Cincinnati where she is entered in next week’s Western & Southern Open. She is seeded tenth at the tournament and therefore would not have a first-round bye, facing a qualifier on Monday or Tuesday.

Andreescu is also entered in the Western & Southern Open where she is due to face Lesia Tsurenko on Monday or Tuesday but it would not be surprising if the Canadian, who has been playing with her thigh heavily strapped and seemingly physically struggling during matches, pulled out of the tournament.

With the beginning of the US Open just two weeks away on Monday 26 September, nobody wants to risk being unable to participate in the final major of the season. 

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Bianca Andreescu crowned Rogers Cup champion as Serena Williams forced to retire with back injury in Toronto final

Trailing 1-3 in the Rogers Cup final, Serena Williams retired due to an upper back injury and Bianca Andreescu became the first Canadian champion since 1969 in Toronto

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