Games

Andreescu retains Grand Slam champion mindset 4 years after U.S. Open triumph | CBC Sports

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Bianca Andreescu approaches each match like a Grand Slam champion, because she is one.

Nearly four years after winning a U.S. Open title, her confidence is undiminished.

“I definitely believe that my level is top 10 and I am still a Grand Slam champion,” Andreescu told The Canadian Press. “In a way, every time I lose, it’s like that person’s beating a Grand Slam champion. I always have that in my head.”

Andreescu’s performances in recent years, however, haven’t lived up to that standard.

Injury after injury and an inability to build any real momentum have led to a 15-14 singles record this year and a No. 44 world ranking entering the National Bank Open next week in Montreal.

The 23-year-old from Mississauga, Ont., gives her season so far a six-out-of-10 rating and says her “patience is running thin because I know how well I can do,” but also feels that her hard work to get healthy will start paying off.

At Wimbledon last month, Andreescu showed progress and gave world No. 5 Ons Jabeur everything she could handle in the third round before the Tunisian star went on a run to the final.

“We are starting to see all the benefits of all the work she’s been doing, but it hasn’t been easy,” said Christophe Lambert, Andreescu’s coach since November. “It’s always frustrating when you can’t really perform at the level you expect because you got some injuries, but I think we’re getting there.

“The Wimbledon game against Ons gave her back the appetite to be performing on a big stage in front of a big crowd, and that’s what she wants. I think that’s what motivates her.”

WATCH | Andreescu drops tight match to Jabeur:

Bianca Andreescu’s Wimbledon journey comes to an end

Canadian Bianca Andreescu lost her third round match against 2022 Wimbledon finalist Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur (3-6,6-3,6-4). Bianca Andreescu played well during the tournament, but was ultimately unable to move forward at Wimbledon.

Although Andreescu lost in a third-set tiebreak to open the hard-court season in Washington on Monday against Ukraine’s Marta Kostyuk, who fended off three match points, it’s still her best surface.

Wins at Indian Wells and the National Bank Open in Toronto in 2019 sparked her run to the U.S. Open title over Serena Williams weeks later, launching her career to another level as the first Canadian to win a Grand Slam in singles.

Searching for confidence, consistency

Andreescu, who says she’s finally feeling healthy, believes she needs to find some consistency and get matches under her belt to rediscover the form that once had her ranked No. 4 in the world.

Lambert adds that Andreescu needs more self-belief in her shotmaking ability, instead of second-guessing herself.

“She’s got good weapons and she needs to believe in it,” he said. “And if [the shot is] not in the court, it’s not in the court, but she needs to believe more in her game at the moment compared to the beginning of the year.

“That’s something she had in the past, this creativity and this instinct in the game, and I think with confidence she will get that back.”

As much as injuries have made things difficult, Lambert says it’s also given them a chance to take a step back and work on some things they otherwise might not have.

When Andreescu injured her ankle at the Miami Open, Lambert postponed his planned holiday break to help with the rehabilitation.

He says tennis players can be reluctant to work on techniques they are not yet good at because of the risk of trying something new and losing points in a match.

With no competition while Andreescu recovered, she opened up.

Technical change

Lambert wanted to address Andreescu’s stance. He says she often plays on her toes, so they worked on gaining more feel for the court from the soles of her feet, which helps the transfer of power when she strikes a ball because her whole body gets behind a shot.

“When you’re injured and you are in rehabilitation, you think a little bit differently,” he said. “And she felt it directly, she said, ‘Wow, that’s amazing, that’s great, I can feel that. I don’t make any effort and my ball has been faster. It’s spinning more.”‘

Andreescu, who wants to finish the year in the WTA top 20, will try to apply that at the National Bank Open next week and says winning again on home soil would “mean absolutely everything.”

If that doesn’t happen, she’ll then turn her attention to the Cincinnati Open up next.

“Any frickin tournament, I will take anything at this point,” she laughed. “Obviously at home would be even better but I will take anything.”

And whether or not she finds success at either, Andreescu maintains a belief that she’ll one day get back to the pinnacle of the sport.

“One hundred per cent, I have no doubt,” she said. “I feel really good at the moment and maybe now’s not the moment but I definitely feel that it will come. I’m still 23, I plan to hopefully play, if everything’s good and I’m healthy, until at least 30 years old. So I have a few chances.”

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