In a week of fascinating storylines to kickstart the 2019 tennis season, one stood out above the rest.
A young Canadian teenager hit through two Grand Slam champions and former world No. 1s to reach her first tour-level final.
Bianca Andreescu, 18, is the latest in the seemingly neverending production line of Canadian tennis.
A country that has never won a Grand Slam singles title – with 2016 Wimbledon runner-up Milos Raonic the closest to success – the future looks incredibly bright with Andreescu joining Felix Auger-Aliassime as two 18-year-old on the verge of cracking the top-100.
Canadian tennis players ranked in top-200
While Andreescus victories over Venus Williams and Caroline Wozniacki on her way to the ASB Classic final in Auckland have put her on the map, she still has a way to go to catch her compatriot Denis Shapovalov, who has peaked at No. 23 in the rankings.
The 19-year-old world No. 27 is delighted with the progress of Andreescu, who he grew up playing alongside, and is excited about the prospects of his countrys next generation.
Its so good for the sport in our country, Shapovalov said of his compatriot after his first-round loss in Auckland.
I grew up side by side with Bianca, so its unbelievable to see her doing so well and honestly, shes such a humble and hard working girl.
So Im really proud of her and Im sure shes going to keep going and have an unbelievable future.
Bianca Andreescu Auckland results
Q1: 6-2 6-0 Kucova
Q2: 7-5 6-1 Fourlis
Q3: 3-6 6-3 6-3 Siegemund
R1: 6-4 7-6 Babos
R2: 6-4 6-4 Wozniacki
QF: 6-7 6-1 6-3 Williams
SF: 6-3 6-3 Hsieh
F: 2-6 7-5 6-1 Goerges
Its so great for the country, this is exactly what we need, we need a lot of juniors coming out.
Weve got me, Felix and now weve got Bianca. So with Genie [Bouchard] and Milos and now we have another generation coming and hopefully it really pushes kids to pick up racquets and believe they can become tennis players in Canada.
Andreescu, who was beaten by defending champion Julia Goerges in her first WTA final having stormed through qualifying, is determined to stay grounded but has set herself a target of cracking the top-50 by the end of 2019.
Now that my confidence is pretty up there, hopefully I can take that into my next couple of tournaments, she said.
I hope I can get deep into the Australian Open and get my ranking up to where I want to be, which is in the top-50 by the end of the year.
It feels really good, Im not going to lie. But Im just trying to stay grounded right now, stay humble and use it to my advantage.
A common characteristic shared between Shapovalov, Andreescu and Auger-Aliasime is their humble nature and willingness to work.
If all fulfil their potential, the future of Canadian tennis is very bright.