MUMBAI (Reuters) – U.S. Open champion Bianca Andreescu has discovered a powerful tool to compensate for limited training opportunities amid the COVID-19 lockdown as the Canadian teenager remains focused on her goal to climb to the top of the women’s rankings.
Andreescu, currently ranked sixth in the world, won her first WTA title at Indian Wells last year and then beat Serena Williams in the finals at Toronto and again at the U.S. Open in Flushing Meadows to clinch her first Grand Slam crown.
But her climb up the rankings was halted after she injured her left knee at the WTA Finals last October.
She has not played since and her bid to return to competitive tennis suffered a further jolt when the season was halted in March due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Andreescu, the first Canadian to win a singles major, said the lockdown had taught her to take nothing for granted.
“I have only been working out right now,” Andreescu, who turns 20 next month, told Eurosport’s Tennis Legends podcast which will be released on Thursday.
“It is tough here in Toronto because they even closed the parks. So, nobody can play any tennis, basketball or even sit on a bench. But I have been working in my mind. As much as I can. It is a very powerful tool that I like to use.”
The injury forced Andreescu to miss the year’s first major at the Australian Open, which went ahead as scheduled. But French Open organisers have postponed the clay-court major to September from May while Wimbledon has been cancelled.
The fate of the U.S. Open in New York is expected to be decided next month.
“I don’t know what the future has on hold but… I’m going to give my best, I don’t like losing so we’ll see but that’s definitely the goal as every other Grand Slam is as well,” added Andreescu, who reached a career-high ranking of four last year.
“Because I want to reach that number 1 spot. I really do.”
With Andreescu on the women’s side and next generation prospects Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime on the men’s, the future of Canadian tennis is in good hands.
The more experienced Milos Raonic and Eugenie Bouchard have also been Grand Slam singles finalists.
Andreescu and Auger-Aliassime, also 19, thanked Tennis Canada for investing in developing a platform for the future.
“Taking people from all over the country, getting out of their comfort zone as a federation, is paying results in the years later,” Auger-Aliassime said. “There are some key changes that they made a few years ago that made the difference.”
Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly; Editing by Ken Ferris