Top seed Bianca Andreescu won her second round match to reach the quarter-finals at the Internationaux de Strasbourg on Tuesday, and then withdrew due to to an abdominal injury, while Arantxa Rus upset the No 2 seed, Jessica Pegula, in the first round earlier in the day.
I did feel tired, for a couple days. And I had like a little bit of a cough, nothing too crazy though, which I am super grateful about. Coming back after the quarantine was a little tough, like I felt my lungs were - and I don't know if it was because of the Covid or because I just stopped for ten days -- but I did feel a little out of breath, but I just kept practicing, kept doing my fitness, kept doing my stuff and it kept getting better. Bianca Andreescu
The Canadian announced her decision to withdraw after gritting her way past Maryna Zanevska, 6-1 6-4.
“I’m super happy with the win today,” she said during her post-match press conference. “Before anyone asks me anything else, I will be pulling out of my next match, because I did feel a little bit of an ab tear, and I don’t want to push it at all for Roland Garros.
“I don’t want to take any risks. Nothing serious though. It’s a little discomfort.”
Andreescu has now won 2 matches at a WTA-level clay-court tournament for the first time in her career, and her 65-minute win over the Belgian was just her 3rd singles match at a WTA event on the surface in total.
After missing the entire 2020 season due to knee and foot injuries, the Canadian has endured a difficult year, with hard quarantine in Australia before her first tournament in over a year, and then a positive Covid diagnosis days before she was set to make her long awaited return to the clay in Madrid.
The 20-year-old admitted that things haven’t been easy for her on the court, but she isn’t sure if it is due to Covid or simply the lack of high-intensity training.
“I did feel tired, for a couple days,” she said. “And I had like a little bit of a cough, nothing too crazy though, which I am super grateful about.
“Coming back after the quarantine was a little tough, like I felt my lungs were – and I don’t know if it was because of the Covid or because I just stopped for ten days — but I did feel a little out of breath, but I just kept practicing, kept doing my fitness, kept doing my stuff and it kept getting better.”
Despite these setbacks, she has still managed to have a positive year, winning 10 out of 13 matches played and reaching the Miami Open final before pulling out with a foot injury.
“Injuries are part of any athlete’s career; there’s always going to be some little things here and there, that you have to be cautious sometimes and take care of them as much as you can, strengthen, and just learn from past mistakes,” she said. “Right now, I’m much better at scheduling tournaments and scheduling my training, all of that.
“I think that’s very important to be getting better in the gym and on the court with different exercises.”
Back on the clay ahead of Paris, the World No 7 was down a break in the second set at 4-2 against Zanevska, but charged back to win the final 4 games of the clash.
Zanevska, currently ranked 259th but with a career-high ranking of World No 105, earned her first WTA-level victory since 2018 over fellow qualifier Yuliya Hatouka in the opening round but she was unable to claim her first Top 10 victory against Andreescu, despite making things competitive in the second set.
Andreescu dominated the first set, firing a forehand passing winner to earn her 2nd break for a 5-1 lead.
After double-faulting away her initial set point in the very next game, the Canadian slammed an overhead to convert her second chance and close out the opening frame.
She moved ahead with an early break in the second, but things then started unravel as Zanevska tightened up her game and amped up her aggression.
The Belgian broke Andreescu to love to level the set at 2-2, then found a handful of beautiful backhands to break again for 4-2 and had a shot at pushing the match into a decisive third set but the Canadian pulled herself back on serve and trimmed her error count.
At 4-4, a deep return on break point helped Andreescu notch another break to go up 5-4, and she served it out to love from there.
During that second set, however, Andreescu felt discomfort and later withdrew from the tournament as a precautionary measure.
Meanwhile, 2nd-seeded Jessica Pegula, saw her Strasbourg campaign come to premature end as she was upset in the first round by Arantxa Rus of the Netherlands, 6-4 6-4, after an hour and a half.
Rus won over two-thirds of points returning Pegula’s second serve, breaking the World No 29 from America 5 times.
The win continues a run of good form on clay for Rus, who reached the final of her most recent event, a clay-court ITF Challenger event in La Bisbal D’Emporda, Spain.
French wild-card Harmony Tan will be Rus’s opponent in the second round.
Tan, who made her first WTA semi-final earlier this season on the clay of Bogota, won her first-round match over Belgian Alison van Uytvanck, 6-4 6-4.
Another seeded American nearly went down in her opener, with No 7 seed Shelby Rogers having to save a match point before outlasting compatriot Christina McHale, 7-5 6-7(6) 7-5, in one of the longest matches of the season so far.
Rogers needed 3 hours 23 minutes to get past McHale and reach the second round after being a point away from winning in straight sets when she held a match point at 6-5 in the second set tiebreak before McHale reeled off the next 3 points to pinch the set.
She then led 4-1 in the decider before McHale claimed 4 games in a row to reach 5-4 and garnered a match point of her own, but Rogers held on for 5-5, then won the final 2 games with relative ease to seal victory from a precarious position.
Rogers will meet qualifier Jule Niemeier in the second round after the German beat fellow qualifier Diane Parry from France, 6-4 6-3, in their opening match.
Another Frenchwoman, Alizé Cornet, though, had to retire from her second round match due to injury, while trailing 8th seed Magda Linette from Poland, 7-6(2) 3-0.
Cornet, the 2013 Strasbourg champion, suffered a right hip injury, putting Linette into the quarter-finals.
“I felt a really sudden pain in the first game of the match, so it’s really unlucky,” Cornet told the press after her retirement. “But you know me, I kept playing, I kept trying, and I was even in the position to win the [first] set.
“But every time I was running, it was quite difficult, and in the second set it got a little bit worse.”