Of all the ups and downs in Bianca Andreescu’s tennis career, hardly any have come to grass.
Now, with her physical and mental health in tow, the Mississauga, Ontario native is ready to play on green courts for a month that culminates with Wimbledon in late June.
Since 2019 – the breakout season in which she won Indian Wells, the Rogers Cup and the US Open – Andreescu has played just four games on grass and won one. The only win came against American Christina McHale, then ranked 239, at the 2021 Eastbourne International.
The 21-year-old has played Wimbledon twice, in 2017 and 2021, but lost in the first round both times. She will open the 2022 grass season at the Berlin Open this week.
But despite the relative inexperience, Andreescu should have no trouble adapting her game, according to ex-coach Sylvain Bruneau.
“She’s very natural, very talented, which I think helps on grass. If you have those skills and the full game and just that natural adaptability, I think she has that,” Bruneau told CBC Sports.
“My first message to them would be that I think their game is suitable for any surface.”
In December, Andreescu announced she was retiring from tennis to recover after two “challenging” years that included multiple physical injuries, mental struggles and a battle with COVID-19.
CLOCK | Andreescu on the break from sports:
She now ranks 71st among women WTA players, fourth off her career best, having only played on clay since returning to the sport in April. Since then she has won seven times against four losses, each of the latter coming from players currently in the top 20.
“Many days I didn’t feel like myself, especially while I was training and/or playing matches. I felt like I had the world on my shoulders,” Andreescu said after their first game in April.
Her newfound mindset became apparent after a loss to world No. 1 Iga Swiatek at the Italian Open.
“Honestly, I’m just fired up to come out and play against them again,” Andreescu said after her defeat. “If I look back a year ago, I’ve made so much progress in the way I deal with being back on tour, with my wins and my losses. I’m just super motivated.”
CLOCK | Andreescu wins in the 1st game of the season:
Andreescu and Bruneau, who now works as a women’s coach for Tennis Canada, split almost exactly a year ago.
Bruneau said the split was amicable. Wanting to spend more time with his family in Montreal, he suggested adding a second coach to Andreescu’s team. But Andreescu preferred to have one dedicated coach.
They still work together through Tennis Canada and maintain constant contact, according to Bruneau.
“She’s like my third daughter. So I really want what’s best for her. i care about her And I think it’s the same for her if you ask her,” he said.
Andreescu is now working with Dutchman Sven Groeneveld, who previously coached Maria Sharapova.
Bruneau said he noticed an improvement on Andreescu’s first serve under Groeneveld. He also noted that she got to the ball earlier – something that should serve her well on grass.
“I think it’s something she can have on her game where she can come in more and intercept because she has so many opportunities to do that,” he said.
CLOCK | Andreescu falls to Bencic in the 2nd round at the French Open:
While the 7-4 record on clay was a solid step forward and the grass season comes with many unknowns, Andreescu could feel the pressure again when the Tour returns to hardcourts, including the National Bank Open (formerly the Rogers Cup). in August and the US Open shortly after.
Bruneau said the key for Andreescu will be getting matches under her belt.
“If she plays a lot of matches, her confidence in her sense of place and her vision and feeling on the pitch increases,” he said.
If that confidence can prevail by 2022, the dominant version of Andreescu could be back before long.
Fernandez wants to return after an injury in Canada
At Roland Garros, Andreescu lost a second-round match to Olympic gold medalist Belinda Bencic, ending hopes of an all-Canadian fight with Leylah Fernandez in the following competition.
Fernandez, the 19-year-old from Montreal, made it to the quarterfinals where she lost to Italy’s Martina Trevisan in 59th place.
He said the goal is for Fernandez to be ready to return to the National Bank Open in Toronto, which begins August 5.
He also revealed that the Canadian was struggling with a “really, really bad cold, kind of like a flu virus” at both the Italian Open and the Madrid Open. In both tournaments she did not get past the second round.
If all goes according to plan, Fernandez should have a solid runway ahead of the US
And Flushing Meadows could set the stage for more Canadian magic.