It was not the finals performance anyone wanted. Not even for the eventual champion, Ashleigh Barty.
The world No. 1 captured the Miami Open title for the second time in her career on Saturday, defeating Bianca Andreescu 6-3, 4-0 (ret.), as the Canadian halted play late in the second set due to injury.
Andreescu, who had already endured so much mentally and physically through the tournament, twisted her foot early in the second set, tumbling to the court. Despite taking a medical timeout and getting some treatment, Andreescu could never recover her movement. At the urging of her fitness coach, she retired from the match in the second set.
It was an anti-climactic finish to an otherwise thrilling tournament for the Mississauga, Ont., native. The loss, understandably, left her in tears.
"I’m definitely the type to wear her emotions on her sleeve," Andreescu said, following the match. "To me, it’s more of a strength because I’m being who I am. I’m not afraid to show that. I’m a very expressive person. It’s helped me win."
Andreescu has done a lot of winning since going pro. She’s now 59-18 across 77 WTA tour-level matches dating back to 2017. She’s been to five finals by the age of 20, winning three of them, including the only grand slam singles title in Canadian history.
In Miami, just her third event since returning to the tour from a 15-month absence, she undoubtedly produced her best level since that magical 2019 US Open.
It was also a calculated warning shot and stark reminder to the remainder of the tour: when Andreescu is healthy and competing, she is one of the best women’s players on the planet.
Her movement showed noticeable improvement from earlier this season in Australia, as she flashed dynamic flexibility and court coverage on numerous occasions with on the run slides, tracking down drop shots and sharp angle balls.
Her tenacious power from the baseline and physicality overwhelmed great opponents like two-time grand slam winner Garbine Muguruza and young American phenom Amanda Anisimova.
Now in the wake of this loss, however, Andreescu is forced to field more questions about her proneness to injury.
"It seems that I'm kind of the only one that keeps getting asked questions about injuries, which is super annoying. I don't want, like, for me to have a reputation of that, because it's not only me that's getting injured."
Put the injuries aside then for a moment.
The reputation we should all be talking about is her relentless fighting spirit.
Andreescu logged 12 hours, 26 minutes on court through her six matches, with four of them going the full three sets.
One of those matches, her semifinal victory over Maria Sakkari, extended into the early morning, finishing at 1:35 a.m. ET.
"It felt like I played three tournaments in one with all the time I had on court," Andreescu joked.
The final memory of this event was a disheartening one – Andreescu in tears, stopping play. It should also not take away from the high quality of play coming from her opponent on the other side of the net.
Barty now has a 10th WTA champion trophy to add to the cabinet.
It should also quell the naysayers who believe she’s not worthy of her world No. 1 ranking. Barty’s versatility is astounding; she has won titles on all surfaces, possesses a grand slam, now has two Masters 1000 trophies, and also an end-of-year championship to her name.
Andreescu will now head home, perhaps with a swollen foot, but also a newfound confidence she lacked in a 2020 spent entirely on the sidelines.
"I'm feeling confident. Like, yeah, sometimes my game is not always going to be there, but I clutch it out during those times, like I'll figure it out. That’s just a challenge of playing sports in general. And I'm here for it, and I want to be here for it for a long time."
Next stop: the clay courts.