Andreescu Wants To Focus On The Future Now

Bianca Andreescu (photo: Vince Caligiuiri/Tennis Australia)

WASHINGTON, February 6, 2021 (by Michael Dickens)

Canada’s Bianca Andreescu is a competitive sort. So, it’s understandable that she can’t wait to get back onto the tennis court and play a match. Not just any match, mind you. But, in this case, a Grand Slam match will do just fine.

The 20-year-old Andreescu suffered a meniscus tear of her left knee in the WTA Shenzhen Finals in October 2019 – not long after she captured her first Grand Slam title by winning the US Open over Serena Williams – and missed the entire 2020 season. Then, upon landing in Melbourne last month to begin a mandatory 14-day quarantine, it turned into a strict lockdown  because someone on her flight from Dubai tested positive for COVID-19. So, instead of being the No. 1 seed in this week’s Grampians Trophy event, Andreescu did the smart thing and pulled out of it – perhaps, being a bit cautious. Now, she’ll make her splashy return in a few days in the Australian Open.

When pressed during a Friday press conference about withdrawing from the Grampians Trophy, Andreescu made sure to put the media at ease. “It was mainly because I had two weeks of not training, and I didn’t want to take the risk of having just a couple of days’ preparations before the [Australian Open]. I’m healthy, though. I’m ready to go,” she said.

“I’ve prepared in the best way that I could. I had a five-month pre-season, I would say. Yeah, at this point, I’m just super grateful to be back, healthy. And, yeah, I’m really looking forward to it.”

After trying to come back too soon from injuries, Andreescu admitted she’s made some mistakes in the past that she’s learned from and does wish to repeat.

“That was kind of the main objective because I told myself that I’d have at least before a big tournament a good week where I can play sets before actually going into a tournament,” she said. “Having those two weeks off, that doesn’t help at all.

“Yeah, I can do gym fitness, shadow tennis, but that’s not the same as being on the court. I didn’t want to make the same mistake.

“I was just grateful enough to have a week training before the Australian Open. I’ve been playing matches. I’ve been playing sets. I’ve been feeling good.”

Andreescu was in a playful mood as she sat down for her virtual interview with reporters from all over the world. “Yeah, first of all, ‘hi, people,’ it’s been a while. Yeah, it’s been a really long while. But I’m happy to be back!”

When Andreescu was asked how she kept herself healthy mentally and physically during her two-week quarantine, in which she was confined to her hotel room, the native of Mississauga, Ontario, said: “A lot of XBOX. That was, like, half of my day. You can only do Zoom fitness and shadow tennis for so long. But, yeah, I’ve been playing a lot of XBOX (Call of Duty), which I really enjoy. It takes my mind off a lot of things. I get to interact with my friends. I know it’s not in person, but what can. You do when you’re stuck in the room?

“Stare at a wall for a couple minutes a day, too (smiling). Yeah, I’ve been reading a lot, meditating, doing my imagery work like usual. … Yeah, I made the times as best I could productive.”

Andreescu also spent time watching video of herself playing in 2019. It was a year that Andreescu won Indian Wells, Toronto and the US Open and reached a career-high No. 4 in October of that year. “I really got into the mood, into the mindset,” she said. “I felt the same things like I did in 2019, which I think really helps me just get in character. It really inspired me, too, just watching myself play again. I normally don’t do that, but I think it was good for me since I haven’t played for so long.”

Looking ahead now – not backward – Andreescu realizes everything happens for a reason – “as cliché as that might sound.” As she emphasized, “I try to focus on the things I can control. I can’t stress that enough. I always say it. But that really helps me stay less stressful than if I don’t follow that rule.

“I try to kind of use these things and think of these things as an advantage towards me, my body, my mind. For instance, I trained for, like I said, five months before that, so maybe it was a good thing for my body to rest a little bit and my mind, too. I was able to do other things, like play my XBOX, just rea a little bit more, focus on myself, just enjoy my time off.”

Andreescu’s first-round opponent in the Australian Open will be 138th-ranked lucky loser Mihaela Buzarnescu of Romania. “I haven’t played in a while, so I don’t really have much expectations going on the court. I still have the same goals, same mindset. It’s just different.

“I don’t really think my return to play will be that dramatic … I mean, I really don’t know how it’s going to be. I really trust in my capabilities. Also, the time off, I was able to reflect a lot on myself, on the world, how things have changed so dramatically all at once.

“I learnt a lot about that, about myself. So, I feel like I’m in a rally good place right now mentally, physically, emotionally, all of that.”

Muguruza is ‘muguruthless’ in routing Vondrousova

No. 6 seed Garbiñe Muguruza of Spain needed just 53 minutes to reach the final of the WTA 500-series Yarra Valley Classic. On Saturday afternoon, she beat eighth seed Marketa Vondrousova of Czech Republic, 6-1, 6-0. Muguruza won 78 percent of her service points, faced no break points and broke her Czech opponent five times. The Spaniard has lost just 10 games all week en route to the final. She will meet No. 1 seed Ashleigh Barty in Sunday’s championship match.

Osaka pulls out of Gippsland Trophy semifinal

Health and safety first at the AO

Naomi Osaka: It’s got to be the shoes

Francesca Jones: ‘I was dealt a different set of cards’

Carla Suárez Navarro: On her cancer and retirement plans

More tributes for Tony Trabert

What they’re writing

In From Feast to Famine In Melbourne, Racquet’s Giri Nathan writes: “Well, that was fun, briefly. The tennis spigot has been off for months. This week it was turned all the way open.”