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Andreescu’s ‘aha moment’ makes Australian Open win possible

MELBOURNEBianca Andreescu traces the path that got her back on the tennis tour after her mental health break — and brought her back to the win column on Monday thanks to a win over a seeded opponent at Australian Open — to what she calls her “aha” moment on a beach in Costa Rica during a spiritual retreat nearly a year ago.

This is how the 22-year-old Canadian described this epiphany in an interview with The Associated Press in Melbourne Park: “I have to play sports and use it as a platform to inspire others.”

Andreescu, who defeated Serena Williams in US Open 2019 final experienced a number of health issues as a teenager, including contracting COVID-19, which hampered her career in 2020 and slowed it down in 2021. She also broke up with her longtime trainer. All in all, there was a lot going on – after beating No. 25 seed Marie Buzkova 6-2, 6-4 on Court 3 on Monday, Andreescu used the word “restless” to describe the period – and she went six months without playing a match. from October 2021 to April 2022, including missing last year’s Australian Open.

“It was then that I began to ask myself the question: is it worth it? Is this life worth it? Because I was very stressed because of many things: the people in my life; how I looked at myself in the mirror,” said Andreescu. “Just holding a tennis racket in my hands didn’t make me feel happy anymore. Or content. Because usually the exit to the court is the place where I run away, and it has ceased to be felt.

She realized that she needed to reassess where she had been and where she was going.

“I keep pushing and pushing and hoping for the best? Or should I take a step back? Here’s what I did. I took a break. And I did other things besides tennis. I did a lot of charity work. I have visited several places. Hanging out with friends I haven’t talked to for two or three years. I started playing football again. I skated a little. I started doing martial arts. I was dancing. A bunch of other things. And it really made me appreciate tennis even more,” Andreescu said with a big smile. “Honestly, I didn’t know when I would pick up the racket again.”

During her time in Costa Rica last February, Andreescu found a new vibe.

“I felt so much better in 2022 than I did in 2021 when I felt so discouraged after defeats,” she said. “Now I just want to get back on the court. I feel very motivated.”

Of course, it looked like this against Buzkova, a US Open quarterfinalist last year.

Andreescu mixed up her punches and overpowered her opponent by choosing big cuts on her ground punches.

“I was simply not allowed to take a break and somehow accelerate,” Buzkova said.

Andreescu said that at the end of Monday she felt a mixture of nervousness and relief because she really wanted to win.

Which she did and now she has to face 100th placed Cristina Buxa of Spain as the journey continues.

“I like to say what my mom always tells me: “Follow your heart.” This is what I did. I would say that I have a strong intuition and I feel like many other people. So trust your intuition,” Andreescu said, pointing her intertwined fingers at her heart. “If you don’t feel good about something for a while – I haven’t felt good in two or three months – I would suggest taking a step back if you can.”

A BIG STEP FOR THE MEN OF CHINA

Qualified teenager Shang Juncheng became the first Chinese to win an Australian Open main draw match in the pro era, defeating Germany’s Oscar Otte 6-2, 6-4, 6-7(2), 7-5.

“I think this is a huge success for Chinese men’s tennis,” said 17-year-old Shang, who has scored 34 winners. “We had some really good female players, but not very famous male players.”

Shang added, “I hope we can do something big in the future.”

Shan, who was runner-up at the 2021 US Open Junior, became the first 17-year-old to win his first Grand Slam match since ranked No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz at the Australian Open two years ago.

“Pretty big achievement,” Shan said. “Looking at Carlos, he is the best player in the world right now. Just watching him play on the court really inspires me, inspires young, young players.”

China has placed three men in the main draw of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time.

Wu Yibin lost his first round match to Frenchman Corentin Moutet on Monday. Zhang Zhizhen plays American Brian Shelton Tuesday.

OBSERVATION OF ACCOUNTS

Jessica Pegula prepared for her Australian Open first round victory by watching TV The Buffalo Bills defeated the Miami Dolphins 34–31. in the first game of the NFL playoffs.

No. 3 seeded Pegula, whose parents own the NHL’s Bills and Sabers, said she woke up at 7am Monday in Melbourne, which was 3pm Sunday in New York, and watched most of the second half. before going to defeat. Jacqueline Christian 6-0, 6-1 at Margaret Court Arena.

“It was a tough game. Not the prettiest victory,” Pegula said of the Bills. “I think it’s definitely an ugly win.”

“It’s like the first game, the playoffs, everyone is a little nervous, a lot of tension,” she added, comparing it to the excitement before the first match at a Grand Slam tournament.

“Obviously they were having fun getting that win before I got on the court,” Pegula said.

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Associated Press freelancer Simon Cumbers contributed to this report.

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Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter: https://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

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AP tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright 2023 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed without permission.



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