As Bianca Andreescu realized she had won her Rogers Cup semifinal match, her emotions took control. She covered her face in tears, kissed the court and lay on her back for several seconds. What was the young teenager who had just made Canadian tennis history thinking? By making the Rogers Cup final on home soil she had just accomplished a feat that had not been done since 1969.
Surely at the forefront of her thoughts were the sacrifices her parents, Maria and Nicu, made so their daughter could pursue her tennis dream. And the arduous journey she has lately undertaken through injury and adversity to get back to top form.
“The past couple of months have been so, so, so, so tough,” said Andreescu after her two-hour and eleven-minute 6-4, 7-6 (5) semifinal win over Sofia Kenin. “It’s just so incredible that I’m in the finals right now of Rogers Cup. I had zero expectations coming into this tournament.”
Bianca Andreescu’s Romanian Roots and Making Sacrifices
When Andreescu was born in 2000, the WTA Tour was undergoing a generational shift. Monica Seles and Steffi Graf, who had dominated the landscape of the women’s game in the 1980’s and 1990’s were superseded at the top of the sport by the Williams sisters, Venus and Serena.
As Andreescu began to learn the sport under Gabriel Hristache in Romania, she would watch these players on TV, dreaming of emulating their successes. It was for this reason that the 10-year-old Andreescu and her family moved back to Canada. There, Andreescu was able to take advantage of investment from Tennis Canada, that has produced a golden generation of Canadian players.
“Ever since I moved back to Canada to pursue my game, we’ve been sacrificing a lot of things,” said Andreescu. “But I don’t necessarily call it a sacrifice because this is what I wanted to do.”
Andreescu’s tennis roots in Canada can be found at the Ontario Racquet Club in Mississauga. Her talent soon caught attention and Andreescu was sought out by Tennis Canada to begin intensive training at the National Training Centre in Montreal. It was at this time time that tennis in Canada was beginning to take off with the likes of Milos Raonic, Eugenie Bouchard and Vasek Pospisil bursting onto the professional scene.
There were, of course, costs to this pursuit of Andreescu’s tennis dream. But the Canadian seems to have no regrets. “We all dedicated everything we had to this sport. It wasn’t easy. There’s always ups and downs like in anything,” said Andreescu.
Success Follows Depths of Adversity for Andreescu
2019 has been a season of contrasts for Andreescu. After finishing as the runner-up in Auckland to winning her first WTA 125K title at Newport Beach, Andreescu made a fine start to the season before stunning the world with her triumph at Indian Wells. Her ability to raise her game against top 10 opponents was put on full display in the Californian Desert as she scored some superb victories, not least over Elina Svitolina and Angelique Kerber in the semifinals and final respectively.
“I have watched all these players play on TV so many times,” Andreescu said after her championship win in Indian Wells. “It’s surreal to be able to play against them in front of amazing crowds at such prestigious tournaments.”
But her landmark triumph was followed by a succession of injuries. For the last five months, Andreescu has been dealing with a serious shoulder problem, which had restricted her to just two tournaments prior to the Rogers Cup. At the first, the Miami Open, she reached the fourth round but retired trailing 2-6 0-1 to Anett Kontaveit. At the second, Roland Garros, she was forced to withdraw ahead of the second round in a moment Andreescu considers one of the lowest points of her career.
“When I got reinjured, for sure I was the most upset I have ever been because I thought I was doing the right things,” said Andreescu. “I changed a lot of things, and those things didn’t come easy to me.”
Bianca Andreescu the Comeback Queen
In every match at the Rogers Cup, Andreescu has faced deficits. Moments where she could have given in. Despite playing 12 hours and 18 minutes on the court, Andreescu has “found something deep within” relying on her fearlessness and variety to stay alive. Against Kenin in the semifinals, Andreescu mixed up her shots, from powerful groundstrokes at the baseline to subtle drop shots. While not having to go three sets, Andreescu facing five match points and a plethora of nerves made this contest a tremendous challenge.
“At 6-5, I was really nervous,” said Andreescu. “So many thoughts were going through my head. I tried to stay as calm as possible, and I think that really helped today.”
Bianca Andreescu Transcendent
Next up for the Canadian is a veteran who she grew up watching at the Rogers Cup: Serena Williams, who is looking to join Monica Seles and Chris Evert with four Rogers Cups. It will be their first meeting, but Williams sees similarities between herself and Andreescu.
“When you’re on the tour that young, it’s a blast,” Williams said after her three-set win over Czech qualifier Marie Bouzkova. “You don’t feel as much pressure. Bianca has won so much by not playing a lot. She’s been doing really well.”
Underdog stories fuel the passion for sports. A year ago, Canadian golfer Brooke Henderson overcame the pressure of expectations to be the first golfer from Canada to hoist the Canadian Women’s Open on home soil in over 40 years. On Sunday, Andreescu will have the opportunity to do the same by etching herself into the annals of Canadian sporting history. One wonders what the future has to hold for this future tennis star. Andreescu, though she is still in the early stages of her career, already has ironclad will to win.
“I’m definitely surprising myself. I don’t realize the things I can do on the court. My coach is always telling me that I’m a champion within. Maybe I am starting to realize that slowly.”
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