Bianca Andreescu returns to play at China Open

September 30, 2019 by Doug Hirdle
Bianca Andreescu is scheduled to play her first match after winning the U.S. Open at the China Open on Monday.

Bianca Andreescu returned to action this weekend at the China Open, her first tournament since winning the U.S. Open almost three weeks ago. The Canadian sensation was on hiatus following her win while making a tour of the talk show circuit in Canada and the United States before returning home to Mississauga for a hero’s welcome.

Andreescu is not the only young player in the history of the sport to receive such fanfare, and while it was not on par with that Andreescu experienced, Tracy Austin felt that same pressure at she won the U.S. Open at the tender age of 16 in 1979 after defeating Chris Evert. That puts Austin, who won three Grand Slams in her career, in a unique position to relate to what Andreescu has gone through. Commenting on that, Austin said,

“There’s (your life) before you win your first major and (your life) after you win your first major. And it’s pretty special, people know who you are, there are obviously more expectations. It really is life-changing.”

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Austin, who now works as a tennis broadcaster, also went on the talk show circuit but on a much smaller scale than Andreescu. Her memories were of winning, dealing with the press conference and then joining her Mother as they took her brother to the airport so he could return to school. Then it was a quick stop at McDonald’s said Austin, who added,

“That was my celebratory dinner there. Everyone was like ‘didn’t we just see you win the U.S. Open?’ and I was like ‘yeah, but quarter-pounder with cheese please.'”

It had been 40 years since Austin’s win as she handed Bianca Andreescu her trophy at last month’s U.S. Open and a proud moment as she said she has been watching the Canadian climb the ranks. Andreescu began the season well down in the ranks, but with several wins, a Rogers Cop Open win and the U.S. Open win, she is now ranked 5th. Speaking on the meteoric rise, Austin said,

“That’s an incredible stat to me. That just does not happen. Usually … it’s a slower progression but with her it’s been absolutely meteoric. The ranking at the start of the year, to winning the U.S. Open, and in the middle of it missing four or five months (with a shoulder injury), I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Austin added that the choice to take time off after such a big win was wise and will allow her to finish the year strong. Austin compared it to Sloane Stephens, who won the 2017 U.S. Open and continued to compete without taking a break and then went on to a long losing streak. Speaking on the decision by Andreescu, Austin said,

“I think it was extremely smart of Bianca’s team to say ‘you know what, you’ve gone through a lot. Without a doubt (fame) does come in a big wave after winning a Grand Slam because there’s more of a demand on your time, and that’s where you have to have a team around you that understands you — because you still have to then get back to playing tennis. … The journey has become more complicated for her but her goals are the same.”

While Andreescu continues to try to keep a low profile, she received congratulations from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who stood uncomfortably close to the star, who also received congraulations from other Canadians such as the Drake and Shania Twain. Sher also had a street named after her in her hometown of Mississauga. ESPN tennis analyst Brad Gilbert, who is a former No. 4 ranked player and former coach to 2003 U.S. Open champion Andy Roddick said in a recent telephone interview that he was confident the off-court attention would not be a distraction to Andreescu. Gilbert added,

“I’m not going to sit here and tell her what she can and can’t do because her life is forever changed now from a couple months ago. If you look at the last couple years, the only (negative) she’s had is injuries. So that’s more of a concern than anything else. If she stays healthy she’s going to do damage. As a coach that’s what you’re excited about, that’s what you look at, and at her age, she’s only going to get better.”

When asked, Gilbert was unable to recall how much enthusiasm there was for Roddick after his win, which turned out to be his only career Grand Slam win. Commenting, Gilbert stated,

“There was no social media yet, things (didn’t have) the gravity they do now, and the United States had a lot of Slam winners. She’s the first Canadian to win a Slam so it’s (takes on) a completely different gravity.”

The ESPN analyst, who picked the Canadian to win once the draw was revealed the week before the tournament, has stated that after seeing her in Toronto that she could win in New York. Commenting, he said,

“Her athleticism is fun to watch … And she’s got variety. She does things that keeps her opponent guessing. If she had been healthy all year she’d be No. 1 in the world right now,” Gilbert said. When she’s playing she’s just completely dominating. And that’s an amazing sign for someone her age.”

Doug Hirdle

Doug Hirdle Author

Doug is a passionate sports fan and has written extensively about breaking sports stories in Canada. Whether writing about hockey or American football, he will always give you the best highlights.