Much has been written, in anticipation of the match between Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer that never happened, about the contrast in their styles. Those contrasts almost pale in comparison to the contrast in the players in the women’s final Sunday in the BNP Paribas Open.
Veteran Angelique Kerber of Germany will play unheralded, under-appreciated, underrated, under-hyped Bianca Andreescu of Canada.
Kerber is 31, Andreescu 18. Kerber has been No. 1 in the world, Andreescu has just reached her tour high at No. 60. Kerber has won $27.5 million in her career, Andreescu $350,909. If Andreescu wins, she will pocket $1,354,010 — or nearly four times her earnings coming in.
Kerber will be looking for her 13th career title on the WTA tour. In a few months, she will go to Roland Garros and Paris in an attempt to win the French Open and become one of only a handful of tennis players, male or female, to have won a Career Grand Slam — each major at least once. She won the Australian and U.S. Open in 2016 and Wimbledon last year.
Andreescu won this year’s Challenger Series tournament at Newport Beach.
Kerber is making her 10th appearance at Indian Wells and has twice made the semifinals. Andreescu has never played here before. Kerber got into the main draw because she is ranked No. 8 in the world, Andreescu because she won the Challenger at Newport Beach and was given a wild-card entry by tournament organizers.
Kerber has logged 7 hours 22 minutes on the court in this tournament, Andreescu 9:11.
But all the stats don’t favor Kerber. Andreescu is 3-0 against left-handed players this year. Kerber is a lefty.
Nevertheless, tennis fans may get a good match. Andreescu won her semifinal in a hard-fought, 2-hour 12-minute three-setter against Elina Svitolina of Ukraine. Andreescu was cramping, but she never stopped fighting and finally won on her fourth match point. The noise level of fans at Indian Wells Tennis Garden was testament to their appreciation of her fight and effort.
Kerber took out a vastly improved Belinda Bencic of Switzerland in her semifinal and did so in straight-set precision against a player who has been on a hot streak and who dominated world No. 1 and defending champion Naomi Osaka in the round of 16.
Kerber is smart enough to know that anything can happen, that just because, on paper, this final looks like a walk in the desert, strange things can happen in tennis.
“She has nothing to lose,” Kerber said. “She will enjoy the match. She is playing really hard and going for it.”
Andreescu, bubbly and charming, was told after her Friday night match that she, at 18, was the youngest woman to reach the tournament final since Kim Clijsters in 2001. Then she also learned that she is the first wild-card entry to get to the women’s final.
“I did not know that,” she said. “Thoughts? I have so many thoughts. That’s incredible, really. Another goal of mine was to make history. I guess I just did.”