Andreescu 2019: Coming back stronger
Andreescu 2019: Coming back stronger
Last October, in the midst of a 17-match winning streak, Bianca Andreescu exuded confidence.
“I don't want to sound like cocky or anything, but I kind of forgot how it feels to lose,” the young Canadian said at the China Open.
At that point in the season, Andreescu had, incredibly, tasted defeat just four times in 2019.
The game’s hottest commodity and newest Grand Slam champion, following a stunning victory at the US Open, Andreescu's achievements were even more extraordinary given a shoulder injury had sidelined her for almost four months that same season.
Up until that injury forced her to retire during her fourth-round match at the Miami Open, Andreescu had been flying.
She had broken through at the “fifth major” at Indian Wells, upsetting Garbine Muguruza, Elina Svitolina and Angelique Kerber to earn her first career title at 18 years of age.
That title marked the continuation of a stellar start to the season.
In her very first event, she won three rounds of qualifying in Auckland before progressing to the final. She later won the 125K event in Newport Beach and reached the semifinals in Acapulco.
Entering that fourth-round match in Miami where her shoulder ultimately gave way, she had won 31 of her first 34 matches of 2019, and shot up from world No.152 to No.24.
“I have played so many matches. I guess this is just a way of my body telling me that it's had enough,” Andreescu reasoned.
“It's disappointing, but it's part of the sport.”
Andreescu was barely sighted in the next four months, except when she bobbed up at Roland Garros to win her first-round match – only to withdraw before her second, her shoulder still not healed.
It was not until August, at Toronto’s Rogers Cup, that she launched a fully-fledged comeback.
And it was a resounding one.
She thrilled her home crowd with a succession of stirring three-set wins, the first over compatriot Eugenie Bouchard.
“I haven't felt this strong in a while,” said Andreecu, who declared herself “12 out of 10” physically.
“I had, I guess, a mini preseason where I was able to focus a lot on my physique and … other aspects of my game. And not only that, but as a person too. I think I really improved a lot of things.
“So I'm really grateful for that break, and I think all that preparation is paying off.”
Andreescu subsequently upstaged top-10 stars Kiki Bertens, Karolina Pliskova and Serena Williams, warming hearts with her kind words for the injured 23-time major champion after a final cut short.
With a second prestigious title under her belt, a confident Andreescu arrived at the US Open, where, incredibly, she was making her first ever main-draw appearance.
She beat seeds Caroline Wozniacki, Elise Mertens and Belinda Bencic to set up a rematch in the final against a now-healthier Williams.
And there, battling a legend who was backed by a super-charged crowd of 23,000 at Arthur Ashe Stadium, Andreescu delivered a masterful performance, capped with a final forehand return winner.
“It’s an extraordinary debut!” commentator Sam Smith exclaimed as the teenager turned to her entourage in disbelief. “Can you believe it? Bianca Andreescu is a US Open champion.”
The win vaulted Andreescu into the top 10; she peaked at world No.4 a month later.
“This wasn't the only time I visualised playing in the finals actually against Serena Williams,” an emotional Andreescu said.
“I've been dreaming of this moment for the longest time. Honestly I've been visualising it almost every single day. For it to become a reality is just so crazy.”
Her 17-match winning streak was ultimately ended by Naomi Osaka in the quarterfinals in Beijing.
But not before Andreescu had become a superstar in her homeland – and beyond.