Bianca Andreescu's 2022 season may have started late but the former World No.4 has geared up for a strong finish.
On Monday, Andreescu handed Liudmila Samsonova her just her second loss in 20 matches, defeating the World No.23, 7-6(1), 4-6, 6-2 in the first round of the San Diego Open. Samsonova came into San Diego on a red-hot tear with three wins in her past four tournaments, including her most recent run to the title at the Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo.
"The match was very tight and it could have gone either way," Andreescu said. "I felt towards the end I felt I was putting a little bit more pressure that she was and I was a little bit more consistent."
Playing her first tournament since making the third round of the US Open, Andreescu kept the pressure on Samsonova's service games, generating 15 break points in the match and breaking five times. Andreescu led by a set and a break before Samsonova powered through to force a third. Andreescu broke for an early 2-0 lead and held on to win after 2 hours and 38 minutes.
The victory sets up a potential second-round showdown with Coco Gauff. The American will face Robin Montgomery in her opener on Tuesday.
Andreescu's opening win validates her decision to skip the overseas events after the US Open to focus on her own wellness and training.
"After the US Open I took a few days, maybe a week in Costa Rica, my happy place," Andreescu told WTA Insider. "I didn't play any tournaments, I've just been training."
"I just wanted to have a longer pre-season in a way, instead of just playing tournaments. I wanted to get some good training in because this summer was a little bit all over the place, with my back and some other things. So I didn't want to go all the way to Europe and then come back here because the goal is to play Guadalajara and I didn't want to do too much traveling."
Andreescu initially took a wild card into qualifying in San Diego before withdrawals boosted her into the main draw. In addition to San Diego, she will play the WTA 1000 in Guadalajara as well as the WTA 125 in Tampico the week before the WTA Finals. From there she will finish her season by representing Canada in the Billie Jean King Cup in November.
With the prospect of a busy finish to the season, Andreescu and her team opted to build in additional training weeks to effectively begin her 2023 pre-season.
"I like it like this because I had a lot of time to reflect on things and get my body 100%," Andreescu said. "The longest pre-season I had was actually before this season in March and I felt amazing. I wanted to take time to have a break after the season so I don't shorten that, so I can add three weeks here and three weeks there.
"I had a total of seven weeks before this season and that helped me tremendously. I know I won't have that after the Billie Jean King Cup because it's mid-November. So that was my thinking."
The decision is consistent with the more mindful, more intentional approach to her schedule and training since returning to competition in April. Prior to that, Andreescu opted to delay the start of her season for mental health reasons, and the time gave her the opportunity to reset herself after her whirlwind 2019 season and subsequent Covid-interrupted seasons.
Since she returned, Andreescu is 17-10 this season. Her best result came on the grass where she made the final of Bad Homburg.
"I think I'm doing better than I expected," Andreescu said. "I try not to have any expectations going into this season but it's definitely better than I thought. Taking so much time off, you never know what you're going to do."
"For me, this is the bigger picture kind of thinking that I'm doing with my coach. So it's not short term, it's more long term. It's way less pressure."