Bianca Andreescu’s extended tennis break served him well

Bianca Andreescu’s extended tennis break served him well

Rome – Bianca Andreescu’s first Italian Open has just reached the quarter-finals against tennis star Iga Sviatek, disguised as a tennis star.

But even after failing to stop the rated Sviatek from winning the 26-match winning streak, Andreescu still took his place with a wide smile in the Roman sun.

Defeat at this stage does not have as severe an advantage as defeat at other stages of his career.

“Honestly, I’m just fired to get back there and play again,” Andreescu said in an interview after his loss on Friday, 7-6 (2), 6-0. “If I look at myself a year ago, I have made so much progress in terms of returning to tour, my victories and my losses. I’m just super motivated. I want to go back to court right now and work on being more aggressive or otherwise. ”

Andreescu, a 21-year-old Canadian from the Toronto suburbs, remains one of tennis’s great talents, as he showed abundantly in winning his first attempt at the 2019 U.S. Women’s Open title, defeating Serena Williams in straight sets.

At No. 4 in the career rankings next month, he will be 72nd on Monday, but he still has a fascinating mix of sophistication and hitting and a rare ability to transmit and rotate speed. He also has strong legs reminiscent of his role model Kim Clijsters, which helps him cover the pitch and generate great pace even though he does not have the leverage of tall players (he is 5 feet -6).

“There is no shot he can not hit,” said Daniela Hantuchova, an analyst and former top five player who commented on the court on Friday when Andreescu and Sviatek were playing for the first time.

“In the first set, Bianca was not far from her highest level,” Hantuchova said. “For me, it was the best tennis team in the women’s tournament so far. In some ways, it almost feels like a mirror to a mirror. They have different techniques, but mentally they have their routine between points and tactically know exactly what they are trying to do there. Both are great athletes and during the match I kept saying that hopefully we will see this match more often. It would be a wonderful rivalry. “

But so far Andreescu, unlike 20-year-old Sviatek, has only been a part-time threat. There was a series of injuries, career concerns and a recent weakness that forced him to take his last long break after the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California, in October 2021, before returning to training. Tournament in Stuttgart last month.

She used the time from the tour to do community service, volunteering at a children’s hospital and a shelter for victims of domestic violence. He traveled to a health center in Costa Rica and focused on developing more mental instruments to complement the visualization and meditation work he, like Sviatek, began during his junior career, and named it as one of his premature, if intermittent, keys to success. .

“After Indian Wells, I really did not want to play,” he said. “I do not know if I was dramatic or not, but that ‘s how I felt at that moment. But now, I’m just very happy that I did not stop because this time off made me appreciate the time I spent in court more because it was a decision made by me. It was not something external like injuries, illness or anything else. It was my calling and so I felt very empowered, and it was a big step in the fact that I was in more control of my life and I was just not putting pressure on me and I was just enjoying myself.

“During this break, I basically did everything I love to do and I said to myself, if I come back, I want to be in the same mindset. Obviously, I want to be competitive and nervous, for example, in case of loss, but I also want to feel that I enjoy the court and after the loss I am more motivated than I crawl into bed and like to cry. The night I did last year. “

Andreescu, like his fellow tennis player Naomi Osaka and some other outstanding athletes of their generation, speaks openly about the mental health challenges they face. Three tournaments in his last comeback, Andreescu is clearly in a better place and will travel to the French Open with an impetus on the red clay to match his varied play.

He came for a Friday interview without a ribbon on his body and without ice packs.

“Nothing,” he said. “I am just very grateful for my body because it was a big problem. “But I see that I am a great player on the pitch if I continue to play well and practice and believe in myself.”

The challenge of the tour – a 10-month test of endurance and stamina – is to maintain health and enthusiasm.

His team, led by veteran coach Sven Groenweld, is focused on keeping him fresh and, according to Andreescu, also calling for bluffs.

“They can call me so that I do not become defensive and I think it really helps me,” he said.

Groenveld, whose most famous student in recent years was the now-retired Maria Sharapova, declined to comment on Andreescu because they were “already early” in the relationship. But he has a systematic approach to his work, sitting on the pitch during matches and noting point-by-point points along with the basic patterns of the game and other details, including disturbances in the player’s concentration.

“He could write 10 books with all the records he was doing. “It’s ridiculous,” Andreescu said.

Andreescu, as Canada’s first and only Grand Slam champion, has already written a book about him called “Bianca Andreescu: She the North”, published in 2019, and wrote one of his own, a picture book published last year called “Bibi’s Got”. Game: A story about tennis, meditation and a dog named Coco.

But after the sudden departure of Ashley Bart, the reigning champion of Wimbledon and the Australian Open earlier this season, women’s game leaders are only hoping that Andreascu’s tennis history is just beginning.

He has an incandescent game, as was obvious to Hantuchov and everyone who watched the opening set on Friday, before Sviatek hit a mechanism that Andreescu was still not ready to meet.

“He obviously gained some confidence from the first set,” Andreescu said. “I tried to be more aggressive, but in the second set I lost an inch. But he’s in the 25-game series, for good reason you did it 26.

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