Flushing Meadows appeared set to bear witness to a trademark Serena Williams comeback in the US Open final, but the 23-time grand slam champion indicated she will not lift a major trophy again until she shows her true self after falling short against Bianca Andreescu.

Williams again missed out on an opportunity to tie Margaret Court's all-time record as she was beaten 6-3 7-5 by Andreescu at Arthur Ashe Stadium on Saturday.

Andreescu dominated the match for a set and a half, reading the Williams serve excellently, producing deep returns and making the 37-year-old contest long rallies she was frequently on the wrong end of.

However, the tide appeared to be turning in a significant way as Andreescu let a championship point slip at 5-1 and allowed Williams to completely erase the deficit.

With a raucous crowd vociferously on her side, most would have expected her to go on and take the set along with a prospective decider to finally end her wait for number 24.

However, Andreescu stemmed the tide with a hold and then pounced on another poor Williams service game of which there were too many, an unreturnable forehand winner clinching the Canadian's first grand slam title on her maiden main draw appearance at the US Open.

For Williams it is now four major final defeats since returning from giving birth to her daughter, though she was less than a year removed from pregnancy when she lost to Angelique Kerber at Wimbledon in 2018.

The American was severely critical of her own display and believes she has not produced her best in any of those defeats.

Asked what she has been thinking since the final point, Williams told a media conference: "Well, I was thinking, okay, Serena, you didn't miss a serve, you lost serve maybe twice in the whole tournament, and you didn't hit a first serve in today, so... That was obviously on my mind, like how do I play at a level like this in a final?

"Again, I think Bianca obviously played well. I think her returns make me play better and puts pressure on my serve. At the same time it's inexcusable for me to play at that level."

"I feel like in 20 years, I definitely will be like, wow, that wasn't so bad," Williams said of her past four slam final defeats.

"It's very hard right now in the moment to take this and say, it didn't work out for you today, but it's really hard right now to take that moment in and to say you did okay, because I don't believe I did.

"I believe I could have played better. I believe I could have done more. I believe I could have just been more Serena today.

"I honestly don't think Serena showed up. I have to kind of figure out how to get her to show up in grand slam finals."

Bianca Andreescu apologised to the Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd after beating Serena Williams in the US Open final to clinch her first grand slam title.

Andreescu, 19, extended Williams' wait for a record-equalling 24th major crown with an impressive 6-3 7-5 victory in New York on Saturday.

But just like Naomi Osaka a year ago, when the Japanese star beat Williams in a controversial final, Andreescu was apologetic to what was a raucous crowd supporting the American great at Flushing Meadows.

Asked about the toughest aspect of her win in an on-court interview, Andreescu said: "Definitely the crowd.

"I know you guys wanted Serena to win, so I'm so sorry. Obviously it was expected for Serena to fight back. She's done that so many times in the past. That's why she's a true champion on and off the court.

"I just tried my best to block everything out. The last game wasn't easy – she started serving way, way better too. Balls were going all over the place. I'm just glad with how I managed really."

Andreescu managed to close out her first major title despite Williams reeling off four consecutive games from 5-1 down in the second set.

The Canadian paid tribute to Williams and was delighted with her own ability to deal with the enormity of the situation.

"It's so hard to explain in words. I'm just beyond grateful and truly blessed. I've worked really, really hard for this moment. I can't complain," Andreescu said.

"This year has been a dream come true. Now, being able to play on this stage, against Serena, a true legend of the sport, is amazing.

"Oh, man. It wasn't easy at all. I tried to prepare my best, like I do for every other match. I tried to step on the court and tried not to focus on who I'm playing. That's really easy to say but I'm really proud of how I dealt with everything."

Serena Williams' quest for a 24th grand slam title continues after she succumbed to an inspired performance by teenage sensation Bianca Andreescu in the US Open final.

The 19-year-old Canadian capped an extraordinary rise in 2019 by clinching the final slam of the season at Flushing Meadows with a 6-3 7-5 victory, maintaining her incredible run of having never lost to a top-10 player.

While it was Andreescu this time around, it was Naomi Osaka who beat Williams at Arthur Ashe Stadium in 2018, with the 37-year-old having been stuck on 23 victories – one shy of Margaret Court's record – since January 2017.

For a spell in a dramatic second set, it looked as though Williams had the upper hand, but Andreescu held firm to condemn her opponent to a fourth successive grand slam final defeat.

KERBER PROVES TOO MUCH AT WIMBLEDON

Williams was around eight weeks pregnant when she won the Australian Open against her sister Venus in January 2017 and, after pulling out of the Indian Wells and Miami Opens, the then world number one confirmed she was expecting her first child.

She returned to tennis in 2018, making her grand slam comeback at Roland Garros. However, it was at Wimbledon that Williams got back into her grand slam stride, until she met Angelique Kerber, who was in no mood to give up on a chance to clinch a maiden Wimbledon crown and won 6-3 6-3. 

"To all the moms out there, I was playing for you today. And I tried," said an emotional Williams, just 10 months after giving birth.  

CONTROVERSY OVERSHADOWS OSAKA'S TRIUMPH

Osaka's sensational triumph should have been the main story from the 2018 US Open final, but unfortunately Williams stole the headlines for the wrong reasons.

Williams' tournament ended in controversy, as she received a game penalty in the second set after she had reacted badly to a code violation issued by the chair umpire Carlos Ramos.

She demanded an apology from Ramos, who Williams accused of being a "liar" and a "thief" after she received a further two violations for smashing her racket and abusing the umpire.

HALEP SHOWS NO MERCY

After a quarter-final defeat in Melbourne and a round-of-32 exit in Paris, Williams returned to grand slam contention as she charged to the final at Wimbledon earlier this year.   But former world number one Simona Halep put in one of the best – if not the best – performances of her career to brush her opponent aside 6-2 6-2, taking just 56 minutes to do so.   "I don't think it's a surprise for anyone to play great against me," Williams said. "When someone plays lights out, there's really not much you can do. You just have to understand that that was their day today."

NO FAIRYTALE IN NEW YORK

A chance at Flushing Meadows redemption came in Saturday's final. Osaka had been reduced to tears at the end of the 2018 final, in part it seemed due to the partisan crowd in Williams' favour that day, with the youngster apologising for beating the fan favourite.

However, despite equally vociferous support at Arthur Ashe, Williams could not muster enough to beat the exceptional Andreescu.

A stunning recovery seemed on when Williams fought back from 5-1 down to draw level in the second set, but Andreescu – who was not born when Williams won the 1999 title – regained her composure to seal a memorable victory on her major final debut.

Serena Williams thanked her team for their support through her "downs and downs and downs" after she lost again in the US Open final.

The 37-year-old was chasing a joint-record 24th grand slam title against Bianca Andreescu at Flushing Meadows but, as against Naomi Osaka last year and in consecutive Wimbledon finals, she came up short.

Williams turned in a nervy showing at Arthur Ashe Stadium, only briefly threatening to rally past her 19-year-old opponent late in the second set of a 6-3 7-5 reverse.

The match came 20 years on from Williams' first US Open victory and, asked about her incredible longevity after another painful defeat, she was hopeful there is still time in her career to return to winning ways in slam finals.

"I just feel really honoured to be out here. I'm just so proud I'm still out here competing at this level," she said at the post-match presentation. "It's not easy to be in this particular sport for 20 years.

"I have to give all thanks to Jehovah God for allowing me to have this moment to even be here.

"My team has been so supportive through all the ups and downs and downs and downs and downs and downs and downs...Hopefully we'll have some ups soon."

Williams has previously described herself as a fan of Andreescu and acknowledged that, with the exception of sister Venus, there is nobody she would rather lose to.

"Bianca played an unbelievable match. Congratulations," she said. "So proud and happy for you.

"It was incredible tennis out there. I wish I could have played better, but if anyone could win this tournament - outside of Venus - I'm happy it's Bianca."

Williams' only flicker of an opening in the match - a 23-minute stretch between Andreescu's first and second championship points - saw the crowd get involved, backing the American star.

She added: "I was just fighting at that point, trying to stay out there a little bit longer.

"Honestly, the fans started cheering so hard, it just made me play a little better and find a little bit more. I was really grateful for that."

Serena Williams was denied a 24th grand slam title in the US Open final for a second consecutive year as 19-year-old Bianca Andreescu capped an extraordinary 2019 with a breakthrough major success in a classic Flushing Meadows final.

The great Williams has been stuck on 23 victories, one behind Margaret Court, since January 2017 and lost in remarkable circumstances to Naomi Osaka in last year's New York final, as well as falling at the final hurdle at Wimbledon in each of the past two seasons.

It had appeared as though the 37-year-old would finally end her wait for the landmark triumph with an outstanding run back at Flushing Meadows until she met giant-slayer Andreescu on Saturday.

The teenager, who was beaten in qualifying last year, has never lost to a top-10 player and continued that incredible record by triumphing 6-3 7-5, becoming the first Canadian to win a singles grand slam.

Williams wore a pained expression throughout a performance that became more and more ragged, gifting away three breaks to double-faults as her experience failed to stand up to a mature Andreescu display.

For 23 minutes at the end of the second set, it appeared there might be a miraculous fightback, though, as the pressure finally got to the previously indomitable Andreescu, who had led 5-1 in the second.

But her calm and composure was rediscovered in the nick of time and the major final debutant, who was not born when Williams won the 1999 title, sealed a stunning triumph, leaving Serena still level with Chris Evert for US Open championships (six) and match wins (101).

Matteo Berrettini was proud of the bravery he displayed against Rafael Nadal in a US Open experience that has convinced him he "can be really dangerous".

World number 25 Berrettini's hopes of reaching a first grand slam final were dashed by a 7-6 (8-6) 6-4 6-1 defeat to Nadal, who is one win away from his 19th major singles triumph – one fewer than Roger Federer's record.

The 23-year-old Italian, who has claimed two ATP Tour titles this year, was pleased with his run to the semi-finals at Flushing Meadows and the tennis he played, having struggled with an ankle injury since his fourth-round exit to Federer at Wimbledon.

Asked what he would take away from his efforts in New York, Berrettini said: "A lot of things, I guess. First of all, I'm still learning the tennis. It's really weird. I was coming here with not a lot of confidence. I was injured. I didn't play a good match in Cincinnati [in a loss against Juan Ignacio Londero]. I didn't expect to do such a great tournament.

"I'm learning to be ready. Every match is important. Every point is important – this one for sure. Then all the matches, you have to be focused and ready to get the chances that you're making.

"I think when I have the right attitude on the court, I can play with any guys. If I'm focusing, if I'm playing my tennis, I can be really dangerous. That's really important to have this confidence."

The meeting with Nadal could have gone very differently had Berrettini been able to convert either of the two set points that came his way in the opening tie-break.

"Winning the first set would have meant I think a lot. Especially with him, it's tough to go a set down after an hour, more than an hour, with him," he said.

"But I was feeling I was playing really good, even though he had a lot of chances on my serve. I think I played also good important points. I mean, I was brave, like I asked of myself.

"I couldn't say anything bad. I cannot complain about what I did. I was playing with Rafa, centre court, in the semis. I think it's okay."

Berrettini, who lost in straight sets and took just five games against Federer at Wimbledon, added: "The last time I played one of the big three [it] didn't go that well. The feelings I had on court for sure was an unbelievable experience. I didn't have so many chances. I think I learned a lot from the match in Wimbledon.

"I was more ready. I was feeling also that the next time I'm going to play Rafa, I'll be more ready because I didn't ever play him even in practice. I didn't know what to expect a lot.

"I think this match will help me a lot to improve my tennis, my everything, and for sure be ready for him the next time."

Rafael Nadal will unquestionably go down as one of the greatest tennis players of all time, and another of the sport's legends was honoured at the US Open before his semi-final.

The man known as Rocket Rod received recognition for a feat no player has been able to replicate, before taking in Nadal's straight-sets win over Matteo Berrettini.

Nadal set up a final with Daniil Medvedev, who defeated Grigor Dimitrov, but the winner of their clash will have to go some way to match the celebrations that marked the end of the men's doubles showpiece.

Omnisport's man on the ground, Nicholas McGee, provides the details in our daily diary from New York.

 

GOOD WEATHER FOR DUCKS

Very little play was possible on the outside courts as heavy rain persisted throughout day 12.

Those dressed for warmer weather may have needed to make an emergency purchase to stay dry.

Thankfully the US Open shop has plenty of options for those needing to wrap up.

It is said rain is good weather for ducks and there are plenty of the rubber variety on offer for those looking to make the bizarre move of adding tennis memorabilia to their bathroom.

FARAH AND CABAL GO BACK TO BACK

Robert Farah and Juan Sebastian Cabal secured back-to-back grand slam titles at Arthur Ashe Stadium as the Colombian men's doubles team overcame Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos 6-4 7-5.

The crowd was filled with fans wearing Colombia national football team jerseys, who greeted the pair claiming match point with a huge roar.

Farah is expecting wilder celebrations when they return to their homeland, telling a post-match media conference: "The way Colombia received us when we came back from Wimbledon was really breathtaking. I don't even want to think about how crazy it's gonna be now that we come back from the US Open.

"I think that back-to-back is quite an achievement, and we just have to say, thank you, Colombia, for all that support and the good vibes they always give us. We are very happy to represent our country in the way that we are doing it."

ROCKET ROD HONOURED

Rod Laver has been in attendance throughout the tournament at Flushing Meadows, and on Friday the 50th anniversary of his second Grand Slam was celebrated.

Laver is the only man in history to win the calendar Grand Slam twice, his second coming at the 1969 US Open.

To honour that incredible achievement, Laver was presented with a replica of the US Open trophy and then with a plaque from representatives of all four major tournaments as the Arthur Ashe crowd came to its feet to show its appreciation for Rocket Rod.

Rafael Nadal will not be motivated by the thought of continuing the dominance of the 'big four' when he faces Daniil Medvedev in the US Open final, as he knows their era is reaching its twilight.

Nadal – 18-time grand slam champion – defeated Matteo Berrettini 7-6 (8-6) 6-4 6-1 in New York on Friday to progress to his 27th grand slam final.

Second seed Nadal will face a first-time major finalist for the third successive year in his meeting with Medvedev at Flushing Meadows, having beaten Kevin Anderson in New York in 2017 and Dominic Thiem at the French Open a year later.

Not since the 2016 US Open has a grand slam been won by somebody other than Nadal, Novak Djokovic or Roger Federer – Stan Wawrinka emerging victorious in the final major of that season after Andy Murray prevailed at Wimbledon.

Medvedev, who is on an 12-match winning streak since losing to Nadal in the Rogers Cup final, will attempt to break that run and deny the Spaniard a 19th major.

The era of Nadal, Djokovic, Federer and to a lesser extent Murray, who is attempting to make a comeback following hip surgery, is regarded by many as the best in the history of tennis.

However, Nadal rejected the notion that he needs to win this weekend to keep their run alive, as he has already accepted a new generation is going to take over.

"We don't need to hold this era anymore," Nadal told a media conference. "We have been here for 15 years almost.

"At some point, these days, [it's] going to happen sooner than later that this era is going to end. It's arriving to the end. I am 33. Novak is 32. Roger is 38. Andy is 32, too.

"The clock is not stopping. That's part of the cycle of life.

"I'm not much worried about this because in tennis there are always going to be great champions."

A win for Nadal would see him move one behind Federer's record tally of 20 slams, with Djokovic four back on 16.

Asked if ending up with the record would be important to him, Nadal replied: "Yes. But I always say the same: we still playing. Here we are. When I arrived here, my goal was to produce a chance to compete for the big thing again. Here I am.

"I give myself another chance, as I did in Wimbledon, as I did in Australia, as I did in Roland Garros. That's the personal satisfaction. That's the personal happiness.

"You win, you lose. That's part of all the sport. Of course, I would love to be the one who achieve the most grand slams, but I still sleep very well without being the one who has the most grand slams.

"I am happy about my career. I am very happy about what I'm doing. I'm going to keep working hard to try to produce chances. Sunday is one. It's just one more chance, that's all.

"I would love to be the one to have more, yes, but you cannot be all day frustrated or all day thinking about what your neighbour has better than you. You have to be happy with yourself. 

"If you are the one to achieve more, fantastic. If not, at least I give my best during my career."

Daniil Medvedev's only meeting with Rafael Nadal was a chastening experience, but the Russian feels it was a valuable one as he prepares to renew acquaintances with the 18-time grand slam champion in the US Open final.

Medvedev faced Nadal at the Rogers Cup in his first ATP Masters 1000 final last month and was on the end of a thrashing as the Spaniard cruised to a 6-3 6-0 win in Montreal.

World number five Medvedev has not lost a match since and will now face Nadal in his maiden major decider following Friday's 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 6-3 victory over Grigor Dimitrov in the semi-finals.

Nadal is the heavy favourite for a match in which he will look to move one slam behind Roger Federer's record tally of 20.

However, Medvedev believes he can lean on what he learned from his heavy defeat in Canada as the 23-year-old plots to upset Nadal on Sunday.

"Talking about Rafa, it's tough to find words," Medvedev told a media conference. "So many players and so many people found them before me.

"He's one of the greatest champions in the history of our sport. He's just a machine, a beast on the court. The energy he's showing is just amazing.

"To play him in your first grand slam final should be, I want to say, a funny thing. It's not going to be a funny thing, but it's going to be an amazing thing to live."

Asked about his sole previous encounter with Nadal, Medvedev said: "It was a tough one. As I actually said, his energy was much higher than mine.

"I had one break point, then he got a break. Then he was only going harder, harder, faster, stronger, and I was only going down.

"It's great that I have this experience playing him in the final of a Masters. I know what to expect. I know how to prepare for it."

Rafael Nadal overcame a stubborn Matteo Berrettini to progress to his 27th grand slam final, where the second seed will meet Daniil Medvedev for the US Open title.

The eliminations of Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer have seen Nadal installed as the clear favourite in the men's singles, and he encountered little in the way of resistance en route to the last four at Flushing Meadows.

However, 18-time major champion Nadal was made to work harder than most would have thought against the big-serving Berrettini – who needed five sets to beat Gael Monfils in the previous round – in Friday's 7-6 (8-6) 6-4 6-1 victory.

Berrettini was not as fatigued as expected following his near four-hour marathon with Monfils and he had opportunities to win what proved an absorbing first set.

He failed to take them, though, and his profligacy proved costly as Nadal took the first on a tie-break and then finally managed to find a way through the Italian, who saved the first nine break points he faced before cracking in the second.

That gave Nadal the foundation to complete a victory in two hours, 35 minutes, though improvements will need to be made if he is to win his fourth US Open title by beating the form player in the world in Medvedev.

Medvedev is unlikely to be as charitable as Berrettini, having played the key points excellently in his straight-sets win over Grigor Dimitrov, but the early signs from the Italian promised a difficult evening for Nadal.

Berrettini saved two break points in his first service game and three more in his second, serves of 132 and 125mph getting him out of jail before an unforced backhand error from Nadal.

His resolve looked set to be rewarded when he raced into a 4-0 lead in the tie-break, a drop volley - which he leaned on throughout the first set - bringing up set point on his serve.

It was a pair of poorly executed backhand volleys that saw him fail to take advantage of his two set points and the set was Nadal's when Berrettini overhit a forehand at the end of a long rally.

He was reliant on his massive forehand to stay on terms in the second as Nadal was continually frustrated on break point.

The dam was finally broken as the drop shot failed Berrettini and Nadal claimed the second thanks to an errant forehand from the number 24 seed.

Nadal immediately went ahead in the third as Berrettini's time on court this week caught up, but in the final the world number two will face a player in Medvedev who had two days rest before his semi-final and will be brimming with confidence as he bids to deny the Spaniard a 19th major title.

 

STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN
Rafael Nadal [2] bt Matteo Berrettini [24] 7-6 (8-6) 6-4 6-1

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Nadal – 31/18
Berrettini – 37/44

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Nadal – 4/4
Berrettini – 9/2

BREAK POINTS WON
Nadal – 4/16
Berrettini – 0/0

FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE
Nadal – 55
Berrettini – 67

PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE
Nadal – 90/74
Berrettini – 66/44

TOTAL POINTS
Nadal – 111
Berrettini - 82

Grigor Dimitrov refused to be too hard on himself following a US Open semi-final defeat to Daniil Medvedev he felt was decided by the Russian's performance on a few key points.

Dimitrov sensationally knocked out Roger Federer in five sets in the quarter-finals to set up a clash with Medvedev, having come from two sets to one down to defeat the 20-time grand slam champion.

However, Dimitrov was not able to make the necessary breakthroughs when it mattered against world number Medvedev, who claimed a 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 6-3 victory to progress to his first major final.

Dimitrov, though, felt the match was closer than the three-set scoreline suggested, with the Bulgarian left upbeat by a run few expected when he started the tournament ranked 78th in the world.

"It was just a few points here and there. Yeah, three sets to love, but, I mean, the score for me doesn't justify the match itself," Dimitrov told a media conference.

"I think it was a good level. Overall he played really well, fought hard, a lot of the key points he played well. I don't want to be too down on myself. Great weeks. First time in the semi-final out here.

"Just going to take a lot of the positives, for sure."

Dimitrov identified the set point he spurned in the first set by clanging a forehand into the net cord and wide as a key moment in the contest.

"As I said, I just didn't play good enough on those key points, especially I think the set point in the first set, I knew what he was going to do. He came up with the goods," added Dimitrov.

"Second set, again, I was not able to get free points on my serve, or on his for that matter. He used the court pretty well.

"For sure I'm critical of myself. I think absolutely I could have done better on certain occasions. Again, I don't want to go too deep right now on myself.

"I will definitely watch the match and see if I could have done any different in any type of situations. But I think, again, a few times it was 30-All, 30-15, [he] just came up with the goods. I came up to the net, it was either a pass or a really good ball, bottom line.

"So I had to go for something very difficult. In a sense, he was provoking me to miss certain shots that I usually wouldn't miss or I would have enough time to hit a volley. Just the small details.

"I do believe I've given everything of myself out there in the match today. I still felt that I could have done something else, I just don't know what it is right now."

Daniil Medvedev's incredible US Open campaign will end in the final after he came through a tight tussle with Grigor Dimitrov 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 6-3.

Russian fifth seed Medvedev has relished the role of tournament villain he was cast in after a controversial third-round win in which he aimed a middle-finger gesture to spectators.

Medvedev has continually talked about using the negative energy to fuel him, though it is unfortunate the pantomime jeers have somewhat overshadowed a breakthrough performance from a rapidly rising star on the ATP Tour.

The boos turned to applause after he overcame injury with an unorthodox performance to knock out Stan Wawrinka and reach the semi-finals, where he flustered and frustrated a player who was sensational in eliminating Roger Federer in the last eight.

Dimitrov's run to the semi-finals was perhaps the most unexpected development of a tournament defined by surprises in New York.

However, he was unable to make any breakthroughs stick against an opponent whose movement suggested he has shaken off his thigh issue on Friday.

Medvedev completed victory in two hours, 38 minutes, with another extremely accomplished performance he will be physically ready for a first grand slam final against either Rafael Nadal or Matteo Berrettini.

As players walk out of the the tunnel and into Arthur Ashe Stadium, they are greeted by a plaque adorned with four famous words uttered by Billie Jean King - "Pressure is a privilege".

Of all the greats to have graced the sport of tennis, no player has embraced that motto more than Serena Williams.

At her most dangerous with her back against the wall, Williams' major-trophy laden career has been defined by the American's ability to thrive when the match situation appears most dire, to ratchet up the intensity and summon her very best when it is most needed.

However, standing between her and a record-tying 24th grand slam title in the US Open final is a teenager who may be her heir apparent in that regard.

Bianca Andreescu only has eight major match wins to her name, six of them coming in this year's event at Flushing Meadows. She was not even born when Williams appeared in her first slam final.

The contrast between the two finalists could not be more stark. Yet, when it comes to on-court intensity, there is a strong argument that Andreescu is already the 37-year-old's equal.

If she continues to produce turnarounds akin to her second-set comeback in the semi-final with Belinda Bencic, the Canadian will soon have a similar reputation for excelling in the moments the vast majority shrink under.

Aptly described as a "warrior and a street fighter" by her coach Sylvain Bruneau on Friday, at the age of 19 Andreescu is a wonderfully entertaining player to watch.

She is blessed with great power and brings tremendous variety to her game, but it is what she does after and in-between points that makes so mesmeric.

Andreescu lives and breathes for every point. In each game she seems to fight with her own internal sense of frustation and it is a surprise when a point she wins is not greeted by a vociferous "Yes! C'mon!" or by her barking at her support team.

Comfort is not a word that naturally comes to mind when watching Andreescu. However, she seems most at ease when in need of a fightback, so being break-point down is viewed more as an opportunity rather than a problem.

Trailing 5-2 in the second against Bencic, having won the first on a tie-break, there was never any thought of her easing off and saving energy for a decider. Andreescu attacked, Bencic got tight and any confidence the Swiss had built up ebbed away as she lost five straight games and handed the match to the main-draw debutant.

"I think when I'm down, I play my best tennis. Whenever my back is against the wall, I think I'm just extra focused in those moments," Andreescu told a news conference.

"I remember I told myself at 5-2 that I didn't want to go in three sets. So I think just that switched my mindset. I was just really, really focused.

"It's [fearlessness] just inside of me somehow. I think it's just my passion for the game, as well. I don't like to lose, so I just try my best every match. I expect a lot from myself, so I think that pressure also helps me do my best in matches."

Andreescu's belief has grown throughout a stunning year. Having failed to qualify for the US Open last year, her 2019 has encompassed a final in Auckland and titles at Indian Wells and the Rogers Cup, where an ailing Williams retired four games into the final.

The desire to win at Flushing Meadows, however, has been there for a long time.

"When I was 16, after I won the Orange Bowl title, I remember I wrote myself a cheque of this tournament, winning the tournament obviously," said Andreescu. "Ever since that moment, I just kept visualising that.

"If that can happen on Saturday, then that would be pretty cool."

She will be able to cash a cheque for $3.85million should she prevail on Saturday. To do so, Andreescu will need to overcome the greatest player of all time, with Williams chasing history in front of her home crowd at the world's biggest tennis stadium.

A monumental challenge, but one Andreescu will unquestionably show no fear in facing.

Serena Williams will play her 10th US Open final on Saturday - 20 years on from her first.

The 37-year-old is set to step out at Arthur Ashe Stadium in pursuit of her 24th grand slam title and yet more history.

Williams is now established as one of the greatest athletes of all time, but how did she and the women's tennis world look in September 1999?

We take a step back in time.


SERENA'S EARLY STRIDES

Williams entered the 1999 US Open as a 17-year-old, but she had already played four WTA Tour finals and was the seventh seed.

Victory over Steffi Graf in the Indian Wells title match had shown just what she could do on the big stage, and she had a whole host of victories over top-10 players to her name by the time she arrived at Flushing Meadows for what was her seventh major.

Williams defeated world number one Martina Hingis three times in 1999, with the third and final victory securing her landmark title in New York.

An incredible run had seen her already beat Conchita Martinez, Monica Seles and defending champion Lindsay Davenport.


THE WILLIAMS DYNASTY

The Williams name was well known on the tour by the time Serena started to really make waves, as sister Venus, two years her senior, had reached the US Open final in the 1997 season.

That was a first tour-level final of any sort for Venus and she was thrashed by Hingis. But Venus won the Miami Open in consecutive years - beating Serena in the 1999 final - and triumphed at the Internazionali d'Italia before heading to the US Open.

Venus was made to wait until Wimbledon in 2000 to taste grand slam victory, however, losing to Hingis in the 1999 Flushing Meadows semis as Serena celebrated a first triumph.

Yet the dominant Williams doubles team had already been established, with victory at the French Open and another in New York.


SEIZING THE POWER

Just as is common in 2019, the major titles were evenly distributed on the WTA Tour in 1999. Hingis won in Melbourne, Graf triumphed at the French Open and then Davenport came out on top at Wimbledon.

Davenport had been the title holder at the US Open, too, until Serena triumphed.

But the arrival of the Williams sisters signalled the end of dominant times for Hingis, Graf and Davenport. The latter claimed her final grand slam title at the 2000 Australian Open, but Hingis did not win a singles major again after Serena's breakthrough. Graf retired just weeks before the 1999 US Open.

Hingis still topped the rankings at the end of 1999, but Venus was third and Serena fourth. And this was still months before Bianca Andreescu, Saturday's opponent for Serena in New York, was even born.

'Think different'.

In 1997, Apple pushed that slogan in an advertising campaign launched well before it became a mobile communications behemoth.

Having only been born a year earlier, nearly 5,900 miles away from Silicon Valley, Daniil Medvedev may not be familiar with that part of tech history.

Medvedev, though, has become the living embodiment of the philosophy.

The Russian world number five was heading into a US Open semi-final on Friday, taking on Grigor Dimitrov for a place in the final. There has been very little normal about Moscow-born Medvedev's route through to this point, everything about it has been different.

Boasting the biggest stadium in tennis and home to some extremely passionate locals, Flushing Meadows is a place capable of producing the kind of atmosphere players dream about playing in.

However, it is also a venue where nightmare experiences are possible, with many players taking exception to behaviour in the stands when the late-night New York crowd gets a little too invested in proceedings.

Medvedev is not like those players, though, and has instead thrived in the face of a sustained level of heckling many would have buckled under.

Amid a disagreement with an umpire in his third-round match with Feliciano Lopez, Medvedev was seen to aim a middle-finger gesture at the crowd. It was shown on the Louis Armstrong Stadium big screen and vociferous booing followed as Medvedev was cast in the role of villain.

He was still able to close out the victory but took part in a post-mach interview that was the antithesis of what is expected in the often-sterile on-court Q&A. The jeers were relentless and, in a situation where many would have pleaded with the fans to stop or cut the interview short, Medvedev soaked up the boos and thanked the crowd for them, praising spectators for giving him energy "to win the next five matches".

Medvedev's response was the same in the fourth round against Dominik Koepfer. Never has such a negative reception been so gleefully welcomed. The rocky relationship between Medvedev and the crowd proved mutually beneficial, as it provided fans with a hate-figure and Medvedev extra motivation to rile them up as he slogged his way through the draw.

Everybody loves to have a villain to hate. However, villains are more convincing when they have the game to back it up. It was the unique way in which he backed it up that turned the fans in Medvedev's favour.

Facing Stan Wawrinka in the quarter-finals, Medvedev developed a problem with his left thigh. It was clear that movement was a huge issue. It would have been the end for most players, and Medvedev later conceded he thought it would spell the end for him.

However, he masterfully ensured it did not finish him off. Restricting his most intense movement for his own service games, Medvedev changed up his tactics superbly, relying heavily on drop shots and exquisitely placed lobs to work a 34-year-old Wawrinka around the court at will.

Even though the Swiss won the third set, the revised plan bore fruit as Wawrinka faltered badly in the fourth, though Medvedev was not happy to win in such a fashion.

"After the match, it was tough for me to express many emotions because I felt the way I won was quite ugly," Medvedev said. "Because that's what I had to do."

It may have felt ugly from his perspective, but, from up in the stands, the speed and the effectiveness with which he altered his approach was a joy to behold, and he received a deserved standing ovation at the end of his last-eight triumph.

Asked if he and the crowd are friends again, Medvedev replied: "Hopefully. It's not for me to decide. What I got I deserved. Usually I'm not like this, as I was in the third-round match. I'm not proud of it. I'm working to be better."

Medvedev's is a redemption story nearing a fascinating conclusion that will come in the final if he defeats Dimitrov.

It may never be exactly clear why Medvedev felt the need to turn the spectators against him. On and off the court, he is an incredibly difficult player to read, even for his coach Gilles Cervara, who summed up his protege using another term adopted by Apple.

"It's like to coach a genius," said Cervara. "Sometimes a genius, you don't understand them. It's like this. They are different."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.