The IX: Tennis Tuesday with Stephanie Livaudais, December 10, 2019
Can Bianca Andreescu back it up in 2020? | Caroline Wozniacki to retire | Must-click links in women's tennis
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How will Bianca Andreescu follow up her 2019 season?
One of the players I’m most looking forward to seeing next season is Bianca Andreescu, the teenager from Canada who blew up tennis with a giant-slaying run that saw her start the year ranked outside the WTA’s Top 150 and finish as a Grand Slam champion.
She’s a total wildcard heading into 2020, where the biggest question will be: Can Andreescu back up the wins? We’ve been asking this of her all throughout this season and she’s delivered, proving herself on increasingly bigger stages. But what’s going to happen when she’s now the favorite, and not the underdog?
The fact that Andreescu nominated for both WTA Player of the Year and Newcomer of the Year in the same season shows how sudden and complete her rise to the top really was. And it’s hard to overstate how incredible Andreescu’s season was: at one point, she held an 8-0 career win-loss record against Top 10 players, and was on a 17-match winning streak, not losing a match in almost seven months. Andreescu also won her first Premier Mandatory on debut in Indian Wells, then went on to become the first Canadian to win the Rogers Cup at home, and topped it off with a victory in New York to become her country’s first Grand Slam winner, too.
Andreescu’s game is electric, and has a wealth of variety: she can come up to the net, she can mix in some slices and drop shots, but she also has plenty of power and pace to change the rhythm of a rally. It’s a fun contrast to the droves of big power-hitters who play flat shots and hug the baseline – and it’s one that seemed to confound those players over and over again.
But even with all of her giant-slaying victories, Andreescu’s fitness was a looming question mark over her season. Bianca spent about half of the season sidelined by a shoulder injury, and finished the year with a worrying knee injury that knocked her out of the WTA Finals. As a result, she also built up a reputation as a player that would constantly call the trainer for treatment on seemingly dubious injuries – a form of gamesmanship in tennis. How much more could Andreescu have achieved had she stayed healthy, and would it have changed how her opponents – and fans – now view her?
Despite the knee injury in October, oddsmakers have her as the second-favorite to win the Australian Open. I want to believe that Andreescu has what it takes to turn a Cinderella season into a dominant career, so I hope she does indeed make her mark in Melbourne. But the question for me as we go into 2020 isn’t “Can Bianca back it up?” but rather “Can Bianca stay healthy enough to give herself a chance to back it up?”
This Week in Women’s Tennis
Speaking of Bianca Andreescu, she’s become the first tennis player to win Canada’s prestigious Lou Marsh Trophy.
More big retirement news coming this week: Caroline Wozniacki, former World No.1 and Grand Slam champion, announced on GMA that she’s hanging up her racquets after the 2020 Australian Open.
The Guardian’s Tumaini Carayol has an excellent profile on Wozniacki, who never abandoned her ultra-defensive game style and followed her own path to finally win a Grand Slam trophy.
Tennis.com’s best women’s match of the decade is Roberta Vinci’s US Open stunner over Serena Williams.
“Welcome to the madhouse”: Simona Halep just added a new name to her coaching team.
The WTA announced the winners for the Coach and Tournament of the Year awards, while Petra Kvitova took home the Karen Krantzcke Sportsmanship Award (again!).
Vacation goals: Venus and Serena Williams live it up in a yacht in the Bahamas.
Serena also just launched a shoppable video series focusing on body diversity for her fashion line “Serena”.
India’s Sania Mirza talks comeback plans with Gulf News, and she’s already got her eye on the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
Issue No.12 of Racquet magazine features former World No.9 Andrea Petkovic profiling the ever-stylish Barbora Strycova.
This is pretty cool: Naomi Osaka met Washington Wizards rookie Rui Hachimura.
World TeamTennis’ new All-Star event has an incredible line-up.
Alison Van Uytvanck gets candid on Behind The Racquet about overcoming the bullying she experienced in her childhood.
Genie Bouchard takes a wildcard into the ASB Classic in Auckland, where she’ll start her 2020 season joining Bianca Andreescu and Serena Williams.
Tweet of the Week
Five at the IX: Bianca Andreescu
I got the chance to chat with Bianca Andreescu after her whirlwind win in Toronto, which made her the first Canadian in the Open era to win at home. It was her first tournament back from shoulder injury, but once she hit the court she never looked back.
No one knew that in a few weeks, Andreescu would become a Grand Slam champion, but even in my conversation with her it was obvious that she was already dreaming bigger:
Q: A year ago, you weren’t even ranked inside the WTA’s Top 200 – what has this rapid rise been like from the inside?
ANDREESCU: Girl… (Laughs) This is definitely not an overnight thing. Ever since I was 12, I’ve been putting in so much work, because I knew exactly what I wanted to do. And what I wanted to accomplish. It wasn’t easy. There’s always ups and downs.
But those downs have really taught me so much. I try to take all of that and try not to make the same mistakes twice. And I also try to look at the ups as motivation, and just take it as a blessing. I never take it for granted, because you never know what tomorrow will bring.
Q: What did you tell yourself during those tough moments?
ANDREESCU: I’m a pretty optimistic person, and I really did believe that everything happens for a reason. So I tried not to look at it as a setback, but more as a challenge. And how I can become better as a person if I push myself through these tough moments.
I know it’s so easy to say, but it hasn’t come easy. Obviously, I get upset really easily sometimes, and just knowing that I can get injured any second sucks. But I’ve learned through that. And it’s just, when I do have these experiences, I do handle it better now because I’ve been through a lot.
Q: This week you showed a lot of mental toughness in your matches – especially playing at home. How did you deal with all those expectations?
ANDREESCU: I would say it’s been… pretty good? Because these are the moments I live for. I’ve been wanting to play this tournament for the longest time, and to do well in it. So I just went on the court and I gave everything I had.
I tried not to focus on the other distractions, like all of the expectations and the pressure. But there’s always going to be pressure, right? So I just tried to take that pressure and channel it inwards, and then just leave it all on the court.
Q: From all the more than 12 hours of tennis that you’ve played this week, what moment stands out to you that you’re most proud of?
ANDREESCU: Well, the match with Genie [Bouchard] really stood out, because it was nice to share the court with another Canadian and knowing that they’re also at the top with you. It’s awesome for tennis in Canada.
But I’d say the win yesterday [against Sofia Kenin] was extra special. I mean, I showed all that emotion on the court afterwards.
Q: Why was that so emotional for you?
ANDREESCU: The reason why I was really emotional was because of all the emotions I had during that tiebreaker [in the third set]. I think my body just wanted to let it all out.
And also because it’s just so incredible that I’m in the finals right now of Rogers Cup. I had zero expectations coming into this tournament. And just with all that I’ve been through. The past couple of months have been so, so, so, so tough. So just being able to be here right now is truly incredible.
Q: Before your matches, you practice creative visualization meditation. What did you visualize today, and how’s reality lived up?
ANDREESCU: Well… I just pictured myself playing my best tennis. And trying to calm down my nerves, because I’m literally playing against a True Champion [Serena Williams]. Literally the GOAT. And obviously, at the end I pictured myself holding the trophy.
In reality? Well, it’s not the way I wanted to win the final, obviously. But this is definitely… this has exceeded my expectations. So I’m truly blessed right now.