An­dreescu: the big tal­ent with a big­ger per­son­al­ity

Reem Abulleil meets the teenage US Open win­ner who is far from shy and re­tir­ing

The National - News - - SPORT -

When Cana­dian teenager Bianca An­dreescu sat on the arm­chair across from TV host Jimmy Fal­lon on The Tonight Show fol­low­ing her US Open vic­tory last month, her first words were: “It feels so good. I made his­tory in Canada. I am truly blessed.”

The 19-year-old – born in Mis­sis­suaga, On­tario to Ro­ma­nian par­ents – had just de­feated Ser­ena Wil­liams in the fi­nal in New York to be­come Canada’s first Grand Slam sin­gles cham­pion, and the first player born this mil­len­nium to lift a ma­jor tro­phy.

Her whirl­wind 2019 saw her leap from 152 in the world at the start of the year to her cur­rent po­si­tion of No.4, mak­ing her the high­est-ranked Cana­dian woman ever. She did it while only con­test­ing a limited sched­ule of 10 events due to a shoul­der in­jury she picked up in March.

An­dreescu has in­deed made his­tory and she’s not one to shy away from an­nounc­ing it to the uni­verse.

When she stunned the field at In­dian Wells in March, up­set­ting four top-20 op­po­nents en route to her maiden WTA ti­tle, the then un­seeded 18-year-old An­dreescu sat in front of the press and tried to make sense of what she had just done. “I’m the eff­ing cham­pion of In­dian Wells,” she beamed.

She wouldn’t lose an­other match – not in­clud­ing in­jury re­tire­ments or with­drawals – un­til Oc­to­ber.

After a three-week vic­tory lap post-US Open, An­dreescu re­turned to the courts at the China Open in Bei­jing and marched to­wards the quar­ter-fi­nals where her 17-match win­ning streak was halted by Naomi Osaka in a high-qual­ity, tight three-set­ter.

“I was pretty up­set be­cause it was very close, it could have gone ei­ther way, and I def­i­nitely did not miss the feel­ing of los­ing,” An­dreescu told The

Na­tional in Shen­zhen, ahead of her de­but WTA Fi­nals match against Si­mona Halep on Mon­day.

“I think that was kind of an awak­en­ing mo­ment. Now I think I’m even more hun­gry to go out there and win as much as pos­si­ble. But I was re­ally happy with how my game held up with Naomi be­cause she’s an amaz­ing player.”

If you ask Osaka, she’ll tell you that she’s the one amazed by An­dreescu, who has ex­ploded onto the scene, not just by post­ing big re­sults, but by show­cas­ing her even big­ger per­son­al­ity.

“She’s the com­plete op­po­site of me. She seems to be able to talk to ev­ery­one, which I’m slightly jeal­ous about. That’s the most out­stand­ing thing [about her] off the court,” says the in­tro­verted Osaka of An­dreescu.

An­dreescu oozes con­fi­dence, both on and off the court, and it seems the big­ger the oc­ca­sion, the bet­ter she per­forms.

“I re­ally think that I was born to play this sport,” she re­veals. “Like even at the be­gin­ning of the year when I had all of those wins, I was sur­prised of course, but at the same time I re­ally thought that my day was go­ing to come one day.”

This year, An­dreescu won her first eight matches against top-10 op­po­si­tion, with her loss to Osaka be­ing the one slip-up tar­nish­ing that in­con­ceiv­able record.

At the glitzy WTA Fi­nals draw cer­e­mony and gala din­ner, An­dreescu showed up dressed in a Chi­nese-in­spired out­fit. She says she chose that dress to be “more au­then­tic” and chose the yel­low/golden colour be­cause it sig­ni­fies “dif­fer­ence and roy­alty” in Chi­nese cul­ture.

Is she as con­fi­dent as peo­ple think she is? “Yes and no,” she says. “Right now, my ten­nis, I think I am. But be­fore I had this suc­cess I don’t think I was. I think it just grew over time. If you’re well-pre­pared you ba­si­cally won half the bat­tle.

“Peo­ple have to re­alise that you just have to be your­self out there, be­cause ev­ery­one else is taken. I know that’s a cheesy quote, but it’s true.

“I re­ally be­lieve that you can ac­com­plish any­thing, doesn’t mat­ter how old you are, and I think I’ve proved that, and many other play­ers proved that as well, like Ser­ena and Fed [Roger Fed­erer] at their age, and also Venus [Wil­liams]. So I think if I just keep bring­ing that to the ta­ble I can keep in­spir­ing many peo­ple.”

Getty

Bianca An­dreescu, pic­tured at the WTA Fi­nals of­fi­cial gala in China, has en­joyed a whirl­wind year in ten­nis

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