Before every tournament she plays and every move she makes, Bianca Andreescu sits down, closes her eyes and visualises exactly how the results will end in her favour. It has become one of the keys to her success, something she never fails to mention as people continue their attempts to make sense of one of the most astonishing breakthroughs in recent years, which culminated in the 19-year-old’s 6-3, 7-5 win against Serena Williams in the US Open final on Saturday
Such is the Romanian-Canadian’s commitment to thinking and speaking her successes into existence, she celebrated her triumph at the Orange Bowl in 2015, one of the most prestigious junior tournaments in the world, by writing herself a replica US Open prize-money cheque. Each year, she would update the cheque in line with the yearly prize money hike, refreshing her motivation for another season ahead. After she finally held the real thing, all $3,850,000 of it, she thought back to four years earlier and cried.
After I won the Orange Bowl, a couple months after, I really believed that I could be at this stage. Since then, honestly I’ve been visualising it almost every single day. For it to become a reality is just so crazy. I guess these visualisations really, really work!”
So much of Andreescu’s rise has been incredible. Last year Naomi Osaka seemed to set the standard for sudden breakthroughs after she started 2018 ranked 77th and finished it as the US Open champion. But one year before her victory, Andreescu had not even broken into the top 100. Ranked well outside the top 200, she lost meekly in the first round of qualifying here, hampered by a back injury and miserable off the court.
“I wasn’t going through a good period in my life at that point,” she says. “I was having problems with some relationships in my life, with my body, and even my mind, too … But I’m glad I went through it because at one point you have to.”
Andreescu is now 45-4 this year, she has a remarkable record of success against top-10 players and the last time she lost a completed match was on 1 March. Andreescu would spend four months out with a shoulder injury, playing only one match at the French Open before the injury relapsed and she was forced out again.
Rhythm is essential in tennis and players speak endlessly of the match play required to have mental clarity under pressure. Andreescu simply picked up where she left off and returned somehow even better than before, tearing through a new 14-match winning streak en route to titles at home in Toronto and then here. When asked if it really felt like she hadn’t lost a match since March, she smiled. “I mean, yeah. Facts are facts, right?”
Even as her results have astounded, Andreescu’s tennis ability is even more impressive. Most top players tend to have a small selection of potent strengths, but her game is polished in every aspect. She is fast on her feet yet also blessed with solid, vicious ground strokes. She is one of the tour’s outstanding returners, but for much of the final her serve was also sublime. Despite being able to destroy any forehand she chooses, she is mostly known for the way she shatters her opponents with her arsenal of different spins, angles, drop shots and slice…Continue Reading