Mertens, a 23-year-old who has been ranked inside the top 20 for several years, took the first set with surprising ease, taking advantage of Andreescu mistakes and serving powerfully and accurately herself.
"She has nothing to lose", Monfils said. So, she realized, it was time for her to "get your sh*t together".
And her pep talk worked.
Matteo Berrettini of Italy advanced to his first Grand Slam semifinal after almost four exhausting hours, edging Gael Monfils 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (5). She clinched the victory with a backhand victor, and then put her hands on her head in disbelief.
Clijsters was indeed one of the idols who inspired Andreescu's style of play. "Is this real life?" she mouthed to them twice.
The players had a matching ten unforced errors in the second set, but Andreescu out-winnered Mertens by 14 to four.
No one can blame her. She is now the first Canadian semifinalist since Carling Bassett lost to Chris Evert at the 1984 U.S. Open, and only the third overall (Lois Moyes in 1909). It marked her 11th consecutive victory.
"She's still young, no pressure".
Still, she insisted her best here is still to come. "That's maybe something she does very well". The win put her in elite company, joining Chris Evert, Pam Shriver and Venus Williams as the only women to make the final four on debut in NY.
Basketball Hall of Famer Steve Nash tweeted about her.
Calling 2019 a breakthrough year for the 19-year-old Canadian will be an understatement.
For the American, it's her 10th appearance in the final showdown at Flushing Meadows. In the victory, Andreescu won 75 percent of her first serve points and 48 percent of her second serve points. What makes her rise a lot more interesting is that she took an injury break to treat her ailing shoulder, missed the entire grass swing and a majority of clay swing, and came back to the tour like nothing changed. "It's definitely not going to be an easy match", said Andreescu.
"I'm so sorry", Andreescu said before asking if she could give Williams a hug. I love you guys! "But I think it's still a long way to that". I was getting a little bit irritated because I didn't think I was playing my best tennis. The 19-year-old from the Toronto suburb of Thornhill gave notice of her potential when she won the championship at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells this year.
Born in Canada to parents who had emigrated from Romania in 1995, Andreescu moved with her parents to their native country when she was 7.
This spirit has played a huge role in her ascent.
"She played really, really well, so I just tried to stay as calm as possible". "It's not over till it's over".
Andreescu and Williams could have a rematch in the final Saturday in what would be their second career meeting.
Andreescu has flipped that normal pattern on its head in her rookie season, beating seeded players and former Grand Slam champions with shocking regularity. Bencic has won seven of her last nine matches on hard court.
She isn't all that concerned about any of that yet. And no matter what, she's happy to be here. "A year ago I was in the [US Open] qualifying round. I think that's the motivation enough to keep going".
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