"I feel pretty damn good," Bianca Andreescu proclaimed after her first match on the competitive court in 15 months. She had defeated Romania's Mihaela Buzarnescu in a grueling three setter, 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 and was overjoyed that she survived and made it through.
She'd went the distance at having a torn meniscus in October 2019 and then laboring with it through 2020. Andreescu had to take an expanded time off besides from the injury but due to the Pandemic. The suspension of tournaments stretched on and the few left towards the end of the season, Andreescu decided to miss.
She headed to Australia for the first slam of the new season. The young Canadian had to not only play and see how her knee would feel, but endure living in 'a bubble' and with constant coronavirus testing. She landed in Australia and had to go through a strict 14-day quarantine which took a lot of physical and mental stamina out of her in-your-face game she's accustomed to playing.
Buzarnescu was just a touch of what Andreescu had been missing for over a year, but going into the second round of the Australian Open was a different story.
Su-we Hsieh was the Canadian's next opponent.
But she is the part of the no.
1 doubles team on tour. The Chinese can play a tricky game and as the former player now commentator Martina Navritilova says "She gets you out of your rhythm." Hsieh did that to Bianca as the first set she won off her 6-3.
There were times when it looked like the 20-year-old Canadian was about to get her groove back. Cross court shots at times hit their target and sometimes not. She had double faulted too many times to gain control of the first set.
It was her opponent who played her usual calm and defiant self. She picked away at Andreescu's game with her traditional unconventional slices and spins leaving the Canadian at a hard spot on trying to find her momentum.
The second set the Canadian's consistency still wasn't there enough to make a difference in her leading in points or games. When Andreescu's shots were good, the fans had hungered for more. It was nice to see.
But the dictating strokes weren't there as much as need be. Hsieh continued to pound her way all over the court as Andreescu dived and struggled to maintain her usual game. "I'm just disappointed that today was my all," she had said after the match.
She had felt and wanted to give a different game more like before but it didn't come. Bianca Andreescu knows that this was just the beginning og her appearance on tour. She admits that "I have to get back into the groove of things and that will be sooner than later."
Andreescu gave credit to her Chinese opponent that she is a strong, aggressive player and says that "Today even in those tough moments I thought I could break her a little bit, but she was on every single ball..."
Bianca has her work cut out for her on improving her overall game. She admits frankly that "Now it's just getting back into play and it's good to know that I still have that fighting spirit in me."