TORONTO, Canada - Few tournaments have caught Next Gen fever quite like the Rogers Cup, an event eager to see 17-year-old wildcard Bianca Andreescu build on last week’s promising WTA debut with a strong run at home.
“With everyone doing so well in Canadian tennis, I think we all motivate each other to do better and better, and elevate our results to the next level,” Andreescu said of fellow wildcards Francoise Abanda and former Wimbledon finalist Eugenie Bouchard during a pre-tournament press conference. “I also think it also gives a chance for the younger generation to do well, because they’re seeing us do so well.”
Andreescu started 2017 with back-to-back junior Grand Slam doubles titles with compatriot Carson Branstine, and aims to model her game after World No.2 Simona Halep. Formerly at the forefront of that younger generation, she crashed the big kid’s table this summer, qualifying for her maiden Grand Slam main draw at Wimbledon and stunning French Open quarterfinalist Kristina Mladenovic en route to the Citi Open quarterfinals.
“I think I had to raise my level from juniors to pros pretty quickly, and I’m pretty proud of all of my results so far. The difference between the juniors and pros is that, in juniors, you can slide off with a couple points during the match. In the pros, you have to stay on it every point, and you have to stay in the zone, or else they’ll come back.”
Such was the case against Andrea Petkovic in the last eight; up a set on the former World No.9, the teen ultimately fell in three, but is keen to learn from her mistakes.
“I think everyone is capable of doing what they believe they can do. To be honest, I didn’t think I could win that match against Mladenovic, but I believed in myself and gave my all on the court. I think it gave me a lot of confidence and experience coming into the Rogers Cup, which is what I need right now.”
WTA Insider caught up with Andreescu after her media debut to talk about her tour-level breakthrough, how she got into the game, and, of course, her favorite Snapchat filter.
WTA Insider: You’re into your home tournament Rogers Cup as a wildcard. How are you feeling after such an impressive week in DC?
Andreescu: I’m really happy with my results last week, getting to my first-ever WTA quarterfinal, and getting my first Top 20 win. That definitely gives me confidence and experience, which is what I need right now to play the Rogers Cup here.
WTA Insider: The last few months have seen a few breakout runs from players in your age group; you and Anastasia Potapova both qualified for Wimbledon, for example. How much do you keep up with your fellow juniors?
Andreescu: We, for sure, motivate each other. When we see each other, we’re pretty good friends, so we talk and catch up on things.
WTA Insider: Stepping back for a minute, how did you get into the game? Who introduced you to tennis?
Andreescu: I was a very active child when I was younger. I played many sports: gymnastics, soccer, swimming, skating, all of that. My parents basically threw me into everything. One day, they threw me into tennis. I started playing in Romania, because my mom had work there, so we kept going back and forth. Ever since that day, I just fell in love with tennis. We moved back to Canada to stay, and that’s when I got into Tennis Canada, and now here I am.
WTA Insider: From those early steps, you started playing junior tournaments, but at what point did you believe that you could make a career out of being a tennis player?
Andreescu: I would say when I won Les Petit As in France back in 2014. It’s a very prestigious tournament with many people watching. I kind of felt like I was a pro there; I signed autographs and all of that. I really loved it. That’s when I thought I wanted to be a pro all the time.
WTA Insider: How would you describe your game to someone who might be watching you play for the first time on Tuesday?
Andreescu: I would say I’m an aggressive baseliner. I like to mix up my shots to throw off my opponents, and I think I can adapt to any surface.
WTA Insider: You mentioned not knowing too much about your opponent, Timea Babos. How will you prepare for that match?
Andreescu: I’m playing in the main draw at Rogers Cup, so I’m for sure going to be excited before I go on. I’m probably going to watch her practice before our match. I’m going to give it all for the moment.
WTA Insider: You’ve already had some experience playing in front of a home crowd, winning a match in Fed Cup. What does it mean to you to be able to play for your country?
Andreescu: Playing for my country is amazing. I’m playing here on home soil, where I train. For the crowd to be for me, it’ll really give me a boost in my matches, which is what I need.
WTA Insider: Your parents are Romanian; did you ever live in the country?
Andreescu: I was born here, but I went between here and Romania every six months because of my mom's job; I went to school there a bit, and that’s why I can speak the language.
WTA Insider: How would you say your Romanian side and Canadian side combine into one Bianca Andreescu?
Andreescu: My Eastern European side is where I think I get my deep desire, like it’s why, when I want something, I want it so badly. When I desire something, I’m very determined. My Canadian side is hardworking, maybe a little competitive.
WTA Insider: At the draw ceremony, it was clear a lot of people were excited to see your name in the draw. How important will that support be this week and throughout your career?
Andreescu: Oh my gosh, I need all the support I can get. The support is No.1 for me. Who knows? I could win this tournament, I don’t know. I’m just going to take it match by match and see where it goes.
More from Andreescu…
Snapchat. I’m kind of a filter queen; my favorite is the dog-eared filter. I’m so basic!
Unforgettable by French Montana.
The Fault in Our Stars. It’s a very sad movie, but I love it.
Favorite TV show to binge-watch…
Grey’s Anatomy. It’s such a good TV show that I feel like I can be a surgeon just by watching it. I know everything about medicine. I’m only season 5, so I have a lot more to go.
Favorite places to go in Canada…
The CN Tower; they have a very nice view and very nice restaurant at the top. I would also say Canada’s Wonderland; it’s an amusement park with a lot of rides and a water park.