By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Wednesday May 31, 2023
Five words tell us all we need to know about Bianca Andreescu at Roland-Garros: “My fighting spirit is back.”
The Canadian, who suffered an ankle injury in Miami, and rocked up at Paris with an 0-2 record on clay this spring, dug deep to rally from a set down against Victoria Azarenka on Court Simonne-Mathieu on Monday evening, storming back from a set and break down to win 2-6, 6-3, 6-4.
The 22-year-old Canadian has never been beyond the second round in Paris, and was nearly out in the first round on Tuesday. Azarenka had two break points to take a double-break lead in set two but Andreescu was able to ratchet up her intensity and take the play to the No.18 seed.
After the match Andreescu admitted that she’s had a difficult time in the aftermath of her ankle injury, which slowed her momentum at the start of the clay season.
“Over the past few weeks I had a lot of bad days and a lot of negative thoughts crept in,” she said. “I mean, this match definitely gives me confidence in that sense. Yeah, I want to go back to how hungry I was in 2019 more than ever.”
How did the Canadian find the strength to rally past Azarenka on a day where the court seemed to be tilted in her rival’s direction? Andreescu shared a story about her grandmother, saying that a recent discussion helped kick-start her desire.
“I’m going to be honest,” she said. “This match I started thinking about my grandmother because she’s getting old, and I’m very close to her. She said: ‘Bianca, I really want to watch you win another major.’
“I had that in the back of my head at one point when I was down 3-1. I started to get emotional too. At that point something, like, just came out of me, and I started playing better. So just thinking about little things like that. Even reminding myself why I play the sport will definitely help.”
Azarenka will face American Emma Navarro in the second round in Paris. She has a relatively favorable draw through three rounds – the 22-year-old would face either American Lauren Davis or Ukrainian Lesia Tsurenko in the third round if she advances.
After that, World No.1 and two-time Roland-Garros champion Iga Swiatek will likely lurk in the round of 16.
Looking Back at, but not Fixating on, 2019
Andreescu was surprisingly open about her feelings on her inability to reproduce the magic of her 2019 season. Her words give insight into the pressure she puts on her own shoulders.
“I always look back at 2019, but I also want to stay in the present moment,” she said. “It’s always nice to have that reminder of: I’m a Grand Slam champion because sometimes I forget.
“Sometimes I feel pretty insecure about myself considering coming off a great 2019 and then not really doing anything per se and not living up to the expectations that I put on myself and, you know, everybody else around me.” The current World No.42 admits that she sometimes gets impatient, especially given that she feels she has been doing the right things on and off the court.
“I’m just trying to stay positive as much as I can,” she said. “I know it’s cliche, but it works for me. And continuing to be patient because I know I’m doing the right things. I’ve been saying that for the past year and a half.
“I’m hoping to get a win soon because time is ticking here. I’m 23 very soon. I say that like I’m very old, but honestly, you see fricking Coco Gauff and Fruhvirtova. I don’t know if I’m saying that right. Like, you know, time is running out…”