Serena Williams overcomes Bouzkova scare in Toronto, to meet Andreescu in final


Serena Williams

Serena Williams

Serena Williams rallied from one set down to beat Marie Bouzkova, a Czech qualifier, and make the final of the WTA Rogers Cup in Toronto.

She lost the first set 1-6, but quickly made up by winning the next two sets 6-3 6-3.

The American is gunning for a fourth title here, having won in 2001, 2011 and 2013

Her obstacle will be local girl Bianca Andreescu’s who edged out the American Sofia Kenin 6-4, 7-6(5).

Andreescu will be the first Canadian to play for the women’s singles title at the modern Rogers Cup, as she held off a late surge from the American in another battle of the two rising stars.

The last Canadian to compete in the final at a previous iteration of the event came at the onset of Open Era tennis, in an all-Canadian final between Faye Urban and Vicki Berner at what was then called the Canadian Open in 1969.

Williams will be seeking her first title since she won her 23rd Grand Slam title at the 2017 Australian Open — and her first since the birth of her daughter Olympia on September 1 of that year.

Bouzkova, 21 and ranked 91st in the world, had said it was a dream come true to take on 37-year-old US superstar Williams, and she made a dream start — breaking Williams three times to take the first set in less than half an hour.

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But Williams rallied, slashing her unforced errors in a second set that saw her win the last four games to force the decider.

“I just needed to be more consistent and not make so many errors and just mentally be ready to hit a thousand balls if I needed to,” Williams said. “In the first set, I was going for a little too much, so I just had to just play a different game.”

The hard work wasn’t over, as Williams had to fight off three break points in the third game of the third set.

She broke Bouzkova in the next game to finally take control and end the Czech’s breakout week.

Bouzkova departs Toronto having beaten three straight Grand Slam winners in Sloane Stephens, Jelena Ostapenko and, in the quarter-finals, reigning Wimbledon champion Simona Halep — who retired injured after dropping the first to Bouzkova on Friday night.

Williams said she was looking forward to taking on Andreescu, whose run to the final has electrified Toronto crowds.

“I’ve never faced her, but I’ve kind of become a fan with everyone rooting and cheering so hard,” Williams said. “It’s kind of been contagious, the ‘Bianca Effect.'”

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