Bianca Andreescu heads into the US summer swing with a spring in her step.
The last 18 months have been tough for Andreescu as she has battled injuries, Covid-19 issues, and also split from long-time coach Sylvain Bruneau. She has shown flashes of her quality, particularly when she reached the Miami Open final, but her 12-7 record for 2021 shows her struggles.
She hasn't played since losing in the first round of Wimbledon but is the defending champion this week at the National Bank Open in Montreal, having won the event when it was last played in 2019. That was only her second career title, and she followed it up a few weeks later by winning the US Open.
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Success since then has been limited, but Andreescu is hoping that with a “new mindset” she can kickstart her career again in her home country.
“I feel refreshed,” she said ahead of the tournament.
“I’m training very hard and I’m happy that my first tournament of the hardcourt season is in Montreal, and I hope that energy will help me. I haven’t played a lot this year because of different circumstances which really sucked, but I have a new mindset.”
Andreescu also has a new coach. Having stopped working with Bruneau in early June, the 21-year-old is working on a trial basis with Sven Groeneveld, whose previous clients include Ana Ivanovic, Caroline Wozniacki, Greg Rusedski, Tommy Haas and Maria Sharapova. Andreescu says she has “already seen a lot of improvement on the court” while the fitness sessions appear to be intense, if her social media updates are anything to go by. She posted a video this week of her appearing to fall to the ground in tears during a training session with the caption: “If it doesn’t challenge [sic] you, it won’t change you.”
This feels like a reset for Andreescu. She had a grass season to forget, losing three of four matches, and is 3-8 since her impressive performance in reaching the final of the Miami Open. At the age of 21 she still has time on her side, and has opted for a change of voice – and a change of style – by turning to Groeneveld. As Sharapova said after her split from Groeneveld in 2018: “There's never a bad time to make a good change.”
The former world No 1 had previously praised Groeneveld for his frank approach – “I like when someone comes in and is honest and truthful and says it like it is. He's that. He puts it all out on the table” - and Andreescu seems to enjoy that quality too.
“I wanted someone who’s a very good communicator, who doesn’t bulls**t me, who’s very honest. If he doesn’t like something, I want him to tell me up front. And I want to be able to be open with that person as well because that’s how you improve and you build on a relationship. And also, having good experience on tour because I want to get to the next level in my career. And he has all of those things.
"I spoke to a couple of coaches but his experience really helps. I want to get to the next level in my career, and I feel that can only be done with someone who has a lot of experience.”
Along with Groeneveld, Andreescu, who is the second seed in Montreal, has also added a mental coach to her team. “I do believe mental stress definitely contributes to physical stress and I do think that some of my injuries came from the mental side, but there are other things that go along with it,” she explained this week. “I learned a lot about myself and I’m feeling better physically because I took care of the aspect.”
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This is a significant stage of the season for Andreescu. She has a lot of points to defend from winning the National Bank Open and US Open in 2019. If she doesn’t go far in both events this summer then she could drop out of the top 20 in the world. But American/Canadian hard courts are her strength. All three of her titles have come in North America while her other two finals (Miami 2021 and Auckland 2019) were both on hard courts. She has previously said that this year was about “adapting a lot”, but now she has the chance settle in familiar surroundings and push on again.
"I'm a different person,” she said ahead of playing in Montreal, which is a few hours away from where she was born in Mississauga.
“I learned so much about myself. I was the up-and-comer, now I'm seeded. But on the court, I feel like I'm the same, I feel confident, at least now."
Andreescu may be boosted by the fact the field in Montreal has been weakened by the loss of several top-10 players. World No 1 Ashleigh Barty and world No 2 Naomi Osaka are both not playing, along with top-10 duo Sofia Kenin and Iga Swiatek, and Serena Williams. Most are set to return next week in Cincinnati, when Andreescu may have even more spring in her step.
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