INDIAN WELLS, CA, USA - It’s been a banner fortnight for Canadian teenager Bianca Andreescu, whose breakthrough rise continues to rewrite the history books at the BNP Paribas Open.
Andreescu, who finished last year ranked No.178, is set to make her WTA Top 40 debut after reaching the semifinals at Indian Wells. It’s one of the best runs by a wildcard in tournament history, with the 18-year-old following in the footsteps of Serena Williams (2015) and Kim Clijsters (2006), the only two previous wildcards ever to have reached the semifinals.
The only person who could have seen it all coming? Andreescu herself, who has already visualized her Indian Wells success.
Speaking to press at the BNP Paribas Open after her 6-0, 6-1 trouncing of former World No.1 Garbiñe Muguruza, Andreescu opened up to reveal how she uses yoga and meditation to hone the mental aspect of her giant-slaying game.
“My mom introduced me to [meditation] when I was really young,” Andreescu explained. “I was maybe about 12. Ever since then I have been meditating and I do a lot of yoga.
“I don't only work on my physical aspect. I also work on the mental, because that's also very, very important. It's definitely showing through my matches where I'm staying in the present moment a lot of the time. I don't like to focus on what just happened or in the future.”
Andreescu’s preferred form of meditation is called creative visualization, which is a type of mindfulness exercise that involves creating a visual mental imagery of the goals that you want to manifest.
But it’s not all about visualizing her on-court success, Andreescu told press. The 18-year-old uses mediation as a daily practice in order to improve her mindfulness and avoid a cluttered mind.
“I wake up every morning and the first thing I do is I meditate,” she explained. “I think it really helps me get a good jump-start to the day. Not opening my phone or anything, not getting too overwhelmed.
“I take 15 minutes every morning just to get in tune with my body, my mind. I visualize myself having a good day, like, stuff like that.”
She added, “I feel like a lot of people work on the physical part of things, but I think the mental part is the most important because it controls your whole body, right?”
Her mental discipline also helps her out on the court, where she’s won 31 of her last 34 matches, recording wins over World No.2 Caroline Wozniacki at Auckland and World No.18 Wang Qiang and World No.20 Muguruza at Indian Wells.
Andreescu has a few unique on-court rituals: she wears a spiral hair tie around her elbow - instead of on her wrist - and occasionally sniffs a jar of… something… during changeovers, although she remains tight-lipped on the secret scent. “I’m never going to reveal my secret,” Andreescu joked to press.
But she did reveal that when she goes on court, she likes to repeat words or phrases that keep her motivated between points.
“Like, I keep key words in my head usually,” Andreescu said. “I just keep very short key words in my head, like, before I serve, before I return. I just try to pump myself up.
“I'll just say, like, ‘catch and stroke,’ because sometimes I tend to have a big swing on the returns… So I just try to keep it compact. Stuff like that.”
Andreescu will do her best to visualize another big win at the BNP Paribas Open on Friday, where she’s bidding to become the first wildcard to reach the final. Standing in her way will be the winner between No.6 seed Elina Svitolina and fellow teen Marketa Vondrousova.