Welcome to Tennis Elbow, the column that looks back on the week that was in the world of tennis. This week, Charles Blouin-Gascon reviews the first week of the 2019 Miami Open presented by Itau.
It’s the post-match insult barely heard around the tennis world.
In a third-round match at the Miami Open this past week, Bianca Andreescu managed to overcome and beat Angelique Kerber by the final score of 4-6, 6-4 and 6-1. This win was the second in three sets in as many weeks for the young Canadian over the German, the first one coming in the Indian Wells final.
After the tennis came the drama, as the German congratulated the Canadian on her hard-fought win with a massive insult. “You’re the biggest drama queen ever,” she said, and we’re not sure we’ll ever get over this.
Kerber to Andreescu: “You’re the biggest drama queen ever.”
— The Tennis Podcast (@TennisPodcast) March 24, 2019
(We’ve added the “barely” disclaimer at the top, because truly it’s difficult to hear exactly what Kerber told her opponent as they shake hands. But if that’s what Twitter says she said, then we’re rolling with it.)
Andreescu had apparently called a few medical timeouts during the match, or something, whatever. The why doesn’t really matter here; Andreescu did something well within the rules anyway, and Kerber had a bit of a meltdown. (Proof that even the angelique ones have an evil side? I’ll show myself out for this one.)
Seriously, folks, she told the victorious player that she is the biggest. drama. queen. EVER.
In tennis, where one usually must always and forever remain humble all the while remaining respectful of the decorum and history and…., in tennis, this kind of insult registers as basically an atomic bomb. Let’s overlook here that Kerber apparently lacks the foresight and perspective to understand that if someone is a drama queen, well, it might be the one calling the other one that; we’ll allow it, as she’s clearly frustrated after a difficult loss against a player whose mystery she still hasn’t solved.
The real lesson here is how much of a problem Andreescu has become for other players on the WTA. It’s easy to forget now but the Canadian hasn’t been with us but for a few matches as this 2019 season is really just the beginning for her. Sure, her arrival has been announced for a couple of years here in Canada, but by and large it’s the start of something new.
She’s been with us for only a few months, yet already has made her way to a ranking of No. 24 as of this writing, which is really ridiculous and astounding. As basically a rooking on tour, Andreescu has only lost thrice in 2019 to go with her first career title at the BNP Paribas Open. By and large, she’s been the driving and central force in women’s tennis right at the time when we were convinced we had entered a new era, that of Naomi Osaka. (Andreescu’s ascent is also a welcome distraction for the Japanese, who hasn’t been really good since the Australian Open but that’s neither here nor there.)
Andreescu has yet to do it on the biggest stages of the sport, but watching her play and compete you get the sense that if she hasn’t excelled at Grand Slams it’s really merely that they’ve yet to play another one since Australia. Andreescu’s game seems tailor-made for the hard courts she is currently excelling on, with a booming and heavy forehand she uses to gain advantage from in the instances when her equally powerful serve hasn’t done it at the beginning of a point.
The 18-year-old’s arrival on tour isn’t dissimilar to that of another young Canadian circa 2014, as Eugenie Bouchard had risen up to No. 5 in the world behind two Grand Slam semifinals and one final and before it all went down the drain. Bouchard’s career is a good reminder that it’s much easier to get to or near the top than it is to stay there—and yet, the thing that might have impressed us most with Andreescu is her deep self-belief in her abilities regardless of how dire a match situation might be.
In the end, Andreescu’s mystery will eventually be solved because everyone eventually is, and that’s when we’ll see if her career will or will not follow the same trajectory as that of Bouchard’s. But please let us live in the here and now for now. Maybe she will, maybe she won’t but in any case it won’t happen overnight.
Back to our match at hand in Miami, it turns out that Andreescu couldn’t have been any less bothered by Kerber’s insult.
Andreescu could sense the tension in the handshake, but wasn’t sure what Kerber had said to her.
“She said something, but I’m not sure what,” Andreescu said. “I just didn’t say anything, whatever, I’m not trying to focus on that. I’ll just let my tennis talk.” #MiamiOpen
— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) March 24, 2019
She doesn’t want, in other words, any drama.
Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG