Emotional Andreescu returns with a win

Melissa Woods
·2-min read

An emotional Bianca Andreescu took a moment to savour her first win in more than a year after making a long-awaited return to the grand-slam stage.

Andreescu, who two years ago as a teenager beat Serena Williams to win the US Open, had not played a competitive match since the 2019 WTA Finals due to ongoing knee issues.

She was in stunning form before the injury, winning 38 out of 40 completed matches from February to September that year.

The setbacks continued early this year when her coach Sylvain Bruneau tested positive for COVID-19 upon arrival in Melbourne, with the pair among the travellers forced into 14-days hard lockdown.

The 20-year-old Canadian withdrew from last week's Open warm-up tournament, opting for more practice time, so was unsure how her first competition match in 15 months would go.

The world No.9 looked headed for a comfortable win over Mihaela Buzarnescu, showing streaks of the classy all-court game that helped deliver her maiden major title.

But the Romanian veteran made her work for a 6-2 4-6 6-3 victory, and the game was on a knife's edge at 3-3 in the decider when Andreescu trailed 0-40.

But the former world No.4 showed her self-belief to continue to go for her shots and secure the win.

"I feel pretty damn good - today's match wasn't easy at all and I'm super, super happy with how I fought it out," Andreescu said.

"It's pretty hard when you haven't played in that long."

Immediately after the win she soaked up the emotion of returning after more than a year of anguish and revealed she had also been in tears the night before her match.

"I was really, really nervous and not only that but just overwhelmed about everything," Andreescu said.

"I had the emotions of just being so happy and grateful to be back on the court, healthy, and then also the nervousness of, 'oh, if I win, if I lose'.

"I did cry ... but it's a good release for me because in my head all I was thinking about were the last 15 months and how tough they were."

Andreescu said she would have to improve to have any chance of matching her US Open feats in Melbourne, where she has never made it past the second round.

"I was missing a lot of balls but I don't want to be too hard on myself in my first match back," she said.

"But hopefully next match I can raise my level."