An­dreescu has eye on Bei­jing Open, coach says

The Prince George Citizen - - Sports - Mor­gan LOWRIE

MON­TREAL — Bianca An­dreescu’s coach says his star player is head­ing right back to work after her his­toric win in the U.S. Open.

After a few days off to cel­e­brate, the 19-year-old from Mis­sis­sauga, Ont. will re­sume train­ing next week with the goal of play­ing one tour­na­ment dur­ing the WTA Tour’s Asian swing – with the Bei­jing Open, Sept. 28 to Oct. 6, as the tar­get, her coach said Tues­day.

Syl­vain Bruneau told re­porters in Mon­treal that An­dreescu has made it clear that she has no in­ten­tion of stop­ping after her win over Ser­ena Williams in New York.

“This is the start of what she says she wants to be able to ac­com­plish, so if it’s only the start (that means) you’re nowhere close to where you want to go or where you want to be, you’re just go­ing in the right di­rec­tion,” he said.

“If this is your men­tal­ity, then back to work.”

An­dreescu’s dream sea­son has sent her sky­rock­et­ing in the rankings, from out­side the top 150 at the end of last year to crack­ing the top five on Mon­day.

Bruneau said he didn’t an­tic­i­pate any ma­jor changes to An­dreescu’s rou­tine or her team go­ing for­ward.

But some changes are in­evitable, he ac­knowl­edged. Rather than com­ing in an un­der­dog, she’ll be a “tar­get” of other play­ers on the tour, with a big­ger fan re­ac­tion to match.

There’s also the money, the en­dorse­ments, the at­ten­tion, the pres­sure – all things that can be dif­fi­cult for a 19-yearold to man­age.

Bruneau ac­knowl­edged the pos­si­bil­ity for dis­trac­tion, but said An­dreescu’s own drive, as well as her fam­ily, were key to keep­ing her grounded.

“She needs to un­der­stand it’s OK to cel­e­brate for a few days and take it in, I think she needs to and it’s the right thing to do, but then you have to move on and go about busi­ness the same way you’ve been do­ing from the be­gin­ning,” he said.

On Satur­day, An­dreescu stunned the crowd in New York by beat­ing Williams 6-3, 7-5 to be­come the first Cana­dian player to win a Grand Slam sin­gles ti­tle.

The speed of her suc­cess has sur­prised even Bruneau, who has coached An­dreescu full-time since 2018. But he said her con­fi­dence be­gan to build with some suc­cesses in smaller tour­na­ments early in the sea­son, and “snow­balled” through­out the sea­son.

“I tried to get her to be­lieve there was no limit to what she could do, and I think at one point she started to be­lieve that,” he said.

That con­fi­dence was cru­cial to beat­ing the leg­endary Williams, a player who has been win­ning ma­jor ti­tles since be­fore An­dreescu was born.

On Tues­day, Bruneau re­called how An­dreescu’s self-as­sur­ance was put to the test back­stage about half an hour be­fore the match was about to start, when Williams en­tered and be­gan warm­ing up in the same spot An­dreescu had favoured all tour­na­ment.

While some mem­bers of An­dreescu’s team wanted to ask her if she wanted to move, Bruneau was adamant that she stick to her spot, and the two warmed up sideby-side.

“We spent a lot of time mak­ing sure she was not go­ing to be in­tim­i­dated, so we’re not go­ing to start right be­fore the match to give her the spot for warmup,” he said. In the end, he be­lieves it made a dif­fer­ence.

“Ser­ena, there’s an aura around her,” Bruneau said.

“Hon­estly, she’s a leg­end. But you can­not back off.”

While the team had orig­i­nally planned an ear­lier re­turn to play, Bruneau said An­dreescu’s sched­ule was changed to give her more time to re­cover and “come down” from her U.S. Open high.

She will meet the me­dia in Toronto to­day be­fore be­gin­ning train­ing for the Bei­jing Open, which is part of the sport’s top level of events below Grand Slams like the U.S. Open. Bei­jing is one of four Premier Manda­tory tour­na­ments on sched­ule.

Bruneau says An­dreescu also hopes to qual­ify for the sea­son-end­ing WTA Fi­nals, Oct. 27 to Nov. 3 in Shen­zhen, China.

An­dreescu is fourth in the stand­ings for the Fi­nals. The top eight qual­ify for the event.

CP PHOTO

Syl­vain Bruneau, coach of Cana­dian ten­nis star Bianca An­dreescu, re­sponds to a ques­tion dur­ing a news con­fer­ence in Mon­treal on Tues­day.

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