Eighth seed Serena Williams will take on home favorite Bianca Andreescu in Sunday’s Rogers Cup final after rallying to defeat qualifier Marie Bouzkova, 1-6, 6-3, 6-3, in Toronto on Saturday. Williams is bidding to win her first title since becoming a mom, having last tasted victory at the 2017 Australian Open.
“I’ve kind of become a fan with everyone rooting and cheering so hard. It’s contagious, the Bianca effect,” Williams told the crowd afterwards. “I’ve always wanted to play her, so I look forward to it.”
Williams tried to work Bouzkova around the court, but the Czech was relentless in chasing down shots, sending replies with plenty of depth to reset the point and trip up the three-time champion. Eighteen of the 27 points Bouzkova won in the first set came as a result of unforced errors off the American’s racquet. To her credit, the 21-year-old protected her serve well, hitting spots when she needed to under pressure to deny Williams any break point opportunities.
Looking to modify her game plan, Williams began pulling the trigger earlier and brought out her drop shot, reaching 3-3 as the crowd willed her on. With a shift in pressure, Williams stepped in on a short second serve to break Bouzkova for the first time and won four successive games to force a decider.
Before beginning the third set, Williams said in her chair, “it’s so windy.” She bailed herself out of trouble by erasing three break points in a testing game, one that proved to be a pivotal turning point. Bouzkova had a chance to hold for 2-2, but Williams kept plugging away with free-swinging on return to get the first, and only, break of the set. She went on to close out the hard-fought victory by hitting two aces in the final game.
“I just had to play better. She was playing really well. She had a really good game plan and was moving great. I had to just make some adjustments, mostly mentally and staying positive,” laughed Williams in her on-court interview.
Williams, last month's Wimbledon runner-up to Simona Halep, will take on Andreescu for the first time. In March, Andreescu captured her first WTA title with a memorable run to the Indian Wells trophy. The 19-year-old eliminated Sofia Kenin in Saturday's first semifinal with a 6-4, 7-6 (5) victory. For Williams, she'll take the court for the fifth consecutive day, having begun her campaign Wednesday against Elise Mertens.