Andreescu’s Guiding Principle: Live In The Present, Forget The Past

Bianca Andreescu (photo: Creative Commons by S.I. Robi-SA 2.0)

INDIAN WELLS/WASHINGTON, October 9, 2021 (by Michael Dickens)

The last time the BNP Paribas Open was held in 2019, Bianca Andreescu, then a budding 18-year-old Canadian teenager, surprised everyone by winning the first of her three 2019 titles at Indian Wells. She would go on to win the Rogers Cup title in Toronto, then culminated her breakout year by capturing the US Open crown with a surprising 6-3, 7-5 victory over Serena Williams.

During her pre-tournament news conference this week, Andreescu, now 21, was asked what advice she would give to the WTA “teen queen” trio of Coco Gauff, 17, Emma Raducanu, 18, and Leylah Fernandez, 19. In a nutshell, she urged that the next generation of WTA stars – Generation Z – to stay grounded and not let success go to their head.

“The advice I would give is to always remain grateful, even if you’re having the hugest successes, because it can all be taken away from you in a split second,” Andreescu said. “For me, it was being injured two months after and that was really hard for me. I feel like I didn’t savor it as much. That’s one thing I learned now that I wish I did back then.

“Don’t let it go too much in your head. Stay confident, obviously, but don’t become stuck up. Stay humble, remain grateful and continue to work hard because as everyone says, at least in my experience, it’s easy to get to the top. But stay staying at the top is what is the hardest part.”

Of course, it helps to stay healthy, which is something that Andreescu has had trouble doing since winning the US Open in September 2019. She reached the quarterfinals at Beijing in her next tournament, then retired in her second match of the the WTA Championships in Shenzhen with a knee injury. Between recovering from the lingering injury and dealing with the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, which shut down the WTA for five months, Andreescu did not play in 2020.

Since returning earlier this year in Melbourne, Andreescu has played in only 12 events this season, compiling a 16-12 win-loss record. Her best result came at the Miami Open, when she reached the final against Ashleigh Barty before having to retire during the title match due to an ankle injury. Earlier this year, she switched coaches, leaving Sylvain Bruneau, who guided her to her 2019 US Open title, for Sven Groeneveld, who formerly worked with Maria Sharapova.

Many, including Andreescu, expected the Mississauga, Ontario native to pick right up where she left off. However, she knew better. On Saturday, the 21st-ranked Andreescu, now healthy and seeded 16th at Indian Wells, will play No. 51 Alison Riske of the United States for the first time. Her attitude is one that focuses on the present and doesn’t dwell on the past.

“The main thing this year for me was to stop looking in the past because that’s what I was doing a lot and that’s what was ruining me,” Andreescu admitted. “I would always say, ‘Oh, I want to play like I did back in 2019. Why am I not playing like I used to?’

“But then I really had to switch that mindset and start focusing in the present moment because the past is the past. Even in the future, I’d really look into the future as well. So, I just stopped that and I told myself to live every moment like it’s your last and obviously that doesn’t come easy, because I still feel like my mind is all over the place. But I know it’s getting better and, you know, with the help of meditation and a good team around me that’s definitely going to improve.”

Winning on big stages, such as Indian Wells and Arthur Ashe Stadium at the US Open, are something that Andreescu has achieved. She believes there’s no reason she can’t do it, again.

“I think that looking back into the past in a positive way is actually beneficial,” Andreescu said. “I was looking at it in a more negative way because I was getting too down on myself, saying, ‘Oh, why? What if?’ And just having all these thoughts, but something that I actually do is go back to 2019 and watch videos of myself in that positive and I try to feel the emotions that I felt back then.

“For this tournament, I actually did the same thing a couple of days ago and I know Indian Wells, they posted a video of my best shots from the tournament and just seeing that really brings me into a good place, and knowing that I won the tournament, it just brings you in a really good place. So, it’s just shifting from that negative way of thinking in the past to the positive.

Raducanu shows a human side in defeat

US Open champion Emma Raducanu’s Indian Wells debut is one she would probably just as soon forget –  a one-sided defeat – but she can chalk it up as a good learning experience. After winning 10 straight matches during the recent New York fortnight and going from qualifier to champion without losing a set, the World No. 22 Raducanu’s good fortune came to an abrupt end in the second round Friday evening on Stadium 1. She showed she’s human after all.

The 17th seed Raducanu from Great Britain lost to No. 100 Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus, 6-2, 6-4, in an hour and 25 minutes. The 18-year-old Raducanu committed four double faults and hit 31 unforced errors. She was broken five times and outpointed 64-51 by the 27-year-old Sasnovich, who hit 17 winners to 19 unforced errors.

“It was a really good match for me,” Sasnovich said, quoted by the WTA website. “I play really well. I know she just won US Open. I lost there in the first round. So a little bit different. But I tried to go on court, I tried to enjoy. I did everything right and I’m happy with the result, of course.”

It was Sasnovich’s second Top 50 win of the season and advanced her to Sunday’s third round against 11th seed Simona Halep of Romania.

Fernandez wins Indian Wells debut

Meanwhile, US Open finalist Leylah Fernandez of Canada was last on court and last off Friday. However, unlike Raducanu, she came away from her second-round match against France’s Alizé Cornet with a 6-2, 6-3 victory in her Indian Wells debut. She won the first five games of the match and finished with 24 winners to advance against No. 9 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

“It does give me a lot of confidence because Alizé, she’s a very tough opponent,” Fernandez said afterward, quoted by the WTA website. “I’ve watched her play on tour. She fights for every point. I’ve practiced with her, too. We’ve had some tough practice matches. I knew that today was going to be hard.

“I’m just glad I was able to get the win. It gives me confidence moving forward.”

#NextGenATP rising stars in action

Italy’s Lorenzo Musetti, Jenson Brooksby and Brandon Nakashima of the United States and Holger Rune from Denmark – all part of the current group of #NextGenATP rising stars – took to the court at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden Friday to play their first-round matches with mixed results.

The 79th-ranked Brooksby was featured in a late-afternoon match on Stadium 1 against 179th-ranked Turkish qualifier Cem Ilkel and won 7-6 (5), 6-4 in his Indian Wells debut to advance against No. 3 seed Alexander Zverev of Germany. Then, the No. 83 Nakashima faced No. 67 Federico Coria of Argentina on Stadium 3 Friday night and came away with a solid 6-3, 6-2 victory to advance against fellow American and No. 31 seed Taylor Fritz.

Meanwhile, the 62nd-ranked Musetti took on No. 48 Albert Ramos-Vinolas of Spain and lost 6-1, 6-3, while the 124th-ranked wild card Rune was defeated by 178th-ranked qualifier and southern California native Ernesto Escobedo of the United States, 6-4, 6-1.

Each of the four #NextGenATP players (21-and-under) are in the chase to qualify for the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan, which takes place from Nov. 9-13. Just 262 points separates Brooksby (877 points), Musetti (876), Nakashima (661) and Rune (615) from one another in the ATP Race To Milan.

Successful IW debuts

• No. 2 seed Iga Swiatek of Poland hit 19 winners and converted six service breaks to win her 34th match of the season and first in an Indian Wells main draw with an easy 6-1, 6-3 win over No. 45 Petra Martic of Croatia in an hour and 11 minutes to move into the third round. Next, the World No. 4 Swiatek plays No. 25 seed Veronika Kudermetova, who advanced 6-2, 6-3 over fellow Russian Liudmilla Samsonova, ranked 42nd.

Two years ago, Swiatek didn’t make it out of IW qualifying, losing to Ysaline Bonaventure of Belgium. Now, she’s seeded second in the 96-player main draw. “In 2019, I wasn’t playing that confident, but I’m really happy that times have changed now,” she said during a courtside interview. “There are many places [that I haven’t played] because I couldn’t finish my season in 2019, and last year, we only had six tournaments. So, it’s pretty exciting.”

• Lost in the shuffle of the more celebrated debuts being made by Emma Raducanu, Coco Gauff and Leylah Fernandez, on Thursday Australia’s Astra Sharma and Mayar Sherif of Egypt won in their Indian Wells debuts. The 102nd-ranked qualifier Sharma defeated No. 99 Donna Vekic of Croatia, 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 to advance against 2018 finalist Daria Kasatkina of Russia. Meanwhile, 72nd-ranked wild card Sherif, who last month won the WTA 125 event in Karlsruhe, Germany, beat No. 87 Danka Kovinic of Montenegro, 6-1, 6-3, and will face 115th-ranked lucky loser Beatriz Haddad Maia of Brazil, who replaced injured No. 29 seed Nadia Podoroska of Argentina, in the next round.

Friday’s BNP Paribas Open results

Saturday’s BNP Paribas Open order of play

Around the Indian Wells Tennis Garden

• Among the women’s seeds advancing to the third round were: No. 4 Elina Svitolina of Ukraine, No. 7 seed Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic, No. 9 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia, No. 11 seed Simona Halep, No. 19 Jessica Pegula, No. 23 Leylah Fernandez, No. 24 Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia, No. 27 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, and No. 32 Sorana Cirstea of Romania. However, there were a quartet of seeded upsets: No. 13 Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan, No. 14 Elise Mertens of Belgium, No. 17 Emma Raducanu, and No. 31 Jil Teichmann of Switzerland, all lost.

Halep, the 2015 Indian Wells champion, was impressive in her 7-6 (2), 6-1 win over No. 58 Marta Kostyuk of Ukraine. It was her first win since being married last month and first match since her amicable split from longtime coach Darren Cahill.

“It’s really nice to be healthy again and be able to compete at this level,” Halep said during a post-match, on-court interview.

“It means a lot to play tennis at this level this year because I was injured and not able to play for many months. I came here, I was a bit more aggressive than normal. I’m trying to improve. My attitude was not great but it’s a pleasure to be back here.”

• No. 8 seed Belinda Bencic of Switzerland withdrew due to a knee injury originally suffered last weekend at the Chicago Fall Tennis Classic. Her place in the draw was taken by 112th-ranked lucky loser Kristina Kucova of Slovakia, who promptly lost to No. 44 Shelby Rogers of the United States, 6-2, 6-2.

¡Felix cumpleaños, Garbiñe Muguruza!

By the numbers

Thursday’s first-round match between 66th-ranked Italian qualifier Martina Trevisan and No. 93 Marie Bouzkova of the Czech Republic, won by Trevisan 6-4, 6-7 (8), 6-4, clocked at three hours and 52 minutes, was the second longest WTA main-draw match of the year and seventh-longest of the Open Era. It missed tying the mark for longest match of the season by three minutes.  Trevisan’s victory was her 13th in her past 15 matches and it advanced her to face No. 18 seed Anett Kontaveit of Estonia in Saturday’s second round.

The longest women’s match by time? It took place in 1984 at a tournament in Richmond, Va., when Vicki Nelson took six hours and 31 minutes to defeat Jean Hefner, 6-4, 7-6. The match was highlighted by a 29-minute, 643-shot rally during the tie-break, the longest in pro tennis history.

“Quotable …”

“It felt nice to receive the support, everyone’s nice messages and kind words. But I didn’t get too caught up in it.

I was just focused on my tennis and my training.”

Emma Raducanu, 18, of Great Britain, during pre-tournament press after winning 10 straight matches to capture the US Open championship last month in just her second major main draw. The 17th-seeded Raducanu, ranked 22nd, was upset by No. 100 Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus 6-2, 6-4 in her first match since winning the US Open title last month.