Bianca Andreescu QF Bianca Andreescu QF

Injury helps Canadian teen continue run


It’s no way to win a match, watching your opponent wheelchaired from the court in pain and tears. But that’s the way it was on Wednesday for Canadian teen Bianca Andreescu, the red-hot form player heading into this year’s Australian Open qualifying draw.

The 18-year-old held a 6-1 lead over Katie Swan before the Briton was forced to retire with a back injury that required lengthy treatment before she could leave the court. 

MORE: All the results from Day 2 of AO 2019 qualifying

How the match might have played out against a fully-fit Swan is academic, but there’s no denying that Andreescu is currently in the form of her life. Days removed from her surge to the ASB Classic final in Auckland, including victories over former world No.1s Caroline Wozniacki and Venus Williams, she is brimming with confidence on this, her first shot at the main draw in Melbourne. 

“I’m feeling really good,” said Andreescu, who shot to a career-high ranking of No.107 following her Auckland run. “I want to take the momentum I had last week and bring it out this week, and I think I did it well in this match today. 

“I’ve worked really hard in my preseason. I’ve been working on developing my game, my physique and my mental toughness. The main thing I’ve been working on is my aggressiveness – but at the right times – and staying in the point when they go long, staying in the rallies. I think I’m bringing that out on the court, so I’m really pleased.”

Up next for Andreescu is a second-round showdown with Greece’s Valentini Grammatikopoulou, who beat Irina Bara of Romania 6-3 6-2. 

Montenegro’s Danka Kovinic was the first woman to reach the second round of qualifying on Wednesday, beating Fangzhou Liu of China 6-1 7-5 in 74 minutes – one minute ahead of Jamie Loeb, the American easing past Australian wildcard Abbie Myers 6-2 6-4.

It was a promising day for the home contingent, with four of the nine Australian women in action advancing to the second round, and Astra Sharma providing the shock of the day. The world No.230 trounced top seed and two-time Australian Open semifinalist Vera Zvonareva 6-3 6-2 in her Grand Slam qualifying debut.

MORE: Sharma sends Zvonareva packing

Kaylah McPhee will also fly the flag in the second round after beating Liechtenstein’s Kathinka Von Deichmann 6-3 6-4, while Naiktha Bains edged a tight encounter with compatriot Maddison Inglis 6-3 5-7 7-5 in two hours, 29 minutes – the longest women’s match of the day. Olivia Rogowska also advanced, downing Ukraine’s Katarina Zavatska 6-1 6-4.

It was a mixed day for the single-digit seeds in action on Wednesday. Mandy Minella, the No.2 seed, was pushed to three sets by Turkey’s Pemra Ozgen before advancing 6-2 4-6 6-4, but No.8 seed Nao Hibino joined Zvonareva on the also-rans list, falling to Antonia Lottner of Germany 6-2 6-4. Anhelina Kalinina claimed the first third-set tiebreak of the day, the Ukrainian No.5 seed edging Italy’s Martina De Giuseppe 6-4 2-6 7-6(5) in two hours, seven minutes.