Bianca Andreescu has not played a single match in over a year as she has struggled with injuries, but says she is now ready to make her comeback to the WTA Tour in January, feeling stronger than ever.
I'm perfectly healthy. I just really wanted to take time to build everything in my life... I realise the unforeseen challenges, including the COVID pandemic, have compromised my ability to prepare and compete...at my highest level. I miss not being there. Bianca Andreescu
She had a breakthrough season in 2019 during which she won her first title at Indian Wells and became the first Canadian to win a Grand Slam when she lifted the US Open singles trophy.
A knee injury sustained at the WTA Finals in China at the end of last season proved to be serious and required surgery and extensive rehab.
“I’m perfectly healthy. I just really wanted to take time to build everything in my life…” Andreescu said recently.
2020 was curtailed due to the worldwide coronavirus pandemic, leaving Andreescu sitting by helplessly on the sidelines trying to get into shape for a return to the tour, which was plagued with cancellations and postponements.
She called a miss on the year, partly afraid of re-injuring her delicate knee and of the risk of contracting coronavirus.
“I realise the unforeseen challenges, including the COVID pandemic, have compromised my ability to prepare and compete…at my highest level,” she said about being unable to defend any of her titles. “I miss not being there.”
The 2020 tour has ended and a bright new beginning awaits her as she trains for the 2021 season.
Most found returning to competition after 7 months off court a struggle but Andreescu remains positive.
“I think this time off really helped me…” she said, adding it had given her time to rest and rehab completely. “I’m really looking forward to 2021.”
It will be new experience for her, to compete within a quarantine bubble and face the challenge of a return.
Her coach, Sylvain Bruneau, believes her injuries ‘are now of the past’ but admits it will take ‘a little bit of an adaption’ for her to compete at the highest level again.
Andreescu and her coaching team vowed to ‘come back stronger’ next year after announcing in August that 2020 was done for them.
“It was a very hard year. We trained in Monte-Carlo to fully recover from her knee injury,” Bruneau told Match Point Canada recently. “She was ready to make her return at Indian Wells, but all the tournaments were cancelled by the pandemic.
“During the summer we trained to prepare for the comeback, but she was sidelined by a foot injury and we had to stop training.
“I am optimistic that injuries are now part of the past. Her breakthrough was so fast, that she was not ready to play many high level matches in a short period of time.”
Bruneau concedes that the 20-year-old will need a little bit of time to get 100% match fit again, but feels she will ‘thrive on competition’.
“Bianca gives her best in hard-fought matches and has to find the competitive feeling,” he added.
“She is going to be totally happy and excited to go back on the court and compete and is extremely motivated. The other side is that you get used to pressure by being put into it a little bit.
“When you are not facing that music for a little while, there is going to be a little bit of an adaptation, but Bianca, just by her nature, has always been someone who has thrived on competition.”
Andreescu looked ready to comeback earlier in the year and was named as part of the Canadian Fed Cup team, only for her to break down again with a fresh injury which, after months of training, she and her coach hope are now well in the past.