TORONTO, Canada - If there were any questions about Bianca Andreescu’s form at her first tournament back since the French Open, the 19-year-old has answered them all on her way to the Rogers Cup quarterfinals.
Would she be able to handle the pressure of playing at home in front of the Canadian crowd?
Yes; in her very first match and against compatriot Eugenie Bouchard, Andreescu outgunned her opponent on a rocking Centre Court and came back from a set down to win in a 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 thriller.
Would her body hold up under the strain after having spent nearly five months nursing a shoulder injury that saw her retire at the Miami Open and withdraw after the first round of Roland Garros?
Definitely; in three matches at the Rogers Cup, Andreescu has played three consecutive three-setters, coming back from a set down two times and racking up eight hours and 16 minutes on court - more than anyone else left in the draw.
Would she still have the killing instinct to take down the big names like she did at Indian Wells during her BNP Paribas Open run?
Why not? In her third round battle, she fought past No.5 seed Kiki Bertens - a player she’d never faced before - dominating in the first set before grinding through in three to win, 6-1, 6-7(7), 6-4.
Andreescu has seemingly picked up right where she left off after her electrifying run to the Indian Wells title, where she lit up the courts with wins over Garbine Muguruza, Elina Svitolina and Angelique Kerber in her WTA Premier Mandatory debut.
“Before the tournament I was feeling really good,” Andreescu told press after her third-round victory. “Just practicing, I felt like I didn't really lose much feel of the ball. But practice and matches are totally different things.”
At her home tournament, Andreescu has had to shoulder the expectations of a country that’s eager for a new tennis star: she is one of only five Canadian women to have reached the Rogers Cup quarterfinals since it became a hardcourt tournament in 1979, and the first since Aleksandra Wozniak’s run in 2012. In fact, the tournament is celebrating the 50-year anniversary of Faye Urban’s victory here, the last time a Canadian won the event.
“Being off for that long and coming into the Rogers Cup and getting into the quarterfinals means so much to me,” Andreescu said of choosing this event for her comeback. “But at the same time, I'm not surprised [to reach this stage] because I've been playing a lot of matches, especially at the beginning of the year. So I gained a lot of experience from that.
“And this time off actually really helped me. I figured a lot of things out and it's showing on the court.”
But while the buzz about a home champion has only grown with each round, Andreescu has made sure to keep her feet firmly on the ground.
“This is a pretty d**n good performance I've been putting up right now,” she acknowledged, before admitting, “I had zero expectations going into this. I was just really happy to be back on court.
“I can't complain right now, so maybe I should just have zero expectations and everything will be fine.”
No expectations doesn’t necessarily mean no goals, however, as the 19-year-old wasn’t shy about revealing her dream of ascending up the rankings - and booking a possible flight to Shenzhen at the end of the year.
“What I've accomplished this year has been a dream come true,” Andreescu said. “I would say my goals for the end of the year would have to be to break the Top 10. I really believe that I can do that. And play in the WTA Finals.”
Andreescu will continue her Rogers Cup campaign in the quarterfinals on Friday, where she will return to Centre Court to face the big-serving No.3 seed Karolina Pliskova.