MIAMI GARDENS: Canada’s Bianca Andreescu heads into Monday’s last-16 of the Miami Open brimming with confidence and feeling she has finally refound her love for tennis.
Andreescu burst onto the scene with a stunning US Open win as a teenager in 2019 and rose to number five in the world that year.
But then her career stalled.
Injury in 2020 sidelined her and then the COVID pandemic blocked any chance of regaining momentum and at the end of the following year she decided to take six months off.
“It was honestly me wanting to figure out if I really want to continue playing tennis because I was literally about to just drop my racquets and just say, screw this,” she said on Sunday.
“I wasn’t happy at all. I wasn’t happy basically for the full year of 2021 and I thought that if I continue like this, it’s just going to get worse.
“So I was like, OK, let’s take a break. Hopefully, that helps. And it really did. My heart did grow fonder for the sport and now I appreciate it in a much different way than I did before that break,” she said.
In Miami, Andreescu has had a tough draw but has beaten two other former Grand Slam winners in Emma Raducanu and Sofia Kenin as well as seventh seed Maria Sakkari.
On Monday she will face Russian Ekaterina Alexandrova for a place in the quarter-finals.
Those results leave her unsurprisingly in a positive mood, but she says one of the keys to her overall happiness and balanced approach to the sport has been how she handles setbacks and defeats.
“Obviously there were ups and downs, but for the most part, I was very, I guess, level throughout 2022, even with the losses.
“I was like, it’s fine. I’ll go have dinner with my team. I’ll go watch a movie, whatever, and not lock myself in the room for three days like I used to,” she said.
Andreescu practises meditation and is more than comfortable talking about spirituality and mental well-being and she says her performances flow from her happiness.
“I think everything physical comes from the mental side of everything, emotional, spiritual, all that. So I feel like it’s mainly in my head.
“I think that’s been the toughest part because I know if everything’s good in my head, everything will be good physically,” she said.
Andreescu has talked in the past of feeling a little unwelcome in the locker-room as a youngster and she says she would be happy to help new players settle into the sport.
One player she says she would particularly like to talk to is 2021 US Open winner Raducanu, who is experiencing similar difficulties to those the Canadian confronted.
“I would love to talk to her about what happened after US Open with all the success, all the media, stuff like that, how she dealt with it, how I dealt with it, how we can maybe help each other in that way,” she said.
“Also, I know that we both haven’t been having, I guess, results we wanted. I don’t want to speak on behalf of her, but I’m sure she wants to do better than she is, just kind of help each other out in that sense. How can we get better, basically?”
While there would no doubt be much the British player could learn from that conversation, one simple truth is that Andreescu has simply matured.
“I feel like I had a lot of time to really settle down and just kind of figure out what’s best for me,” she said, reflecting on her return to form.
“I know it wasn’t going to come overnight. I mean, four years later, I hope that I can, you know, get another Grand Slam as soon as I can.”