US Open champion, Bianca Andreescu plays her first match since her stunning Flushing Meadows triumph when she takes on Belarusian, Aliaksandra Sasnovich in the first round of the China Open on Monday.
*Geo-restrictions apply. Streams available to customers with an active balance
It’s been three weeks since Andreescu scored that superb win over Serena Williams in the US Open final- will the Canadian teenager make a winning return to action in Beijing on Monday?
Andreescu arrives Beijing on a 13-match winning streak, having also won the Rogers Cup in Toronto just before her US Open triumph. The 19-year-old is an incredible 32-4 for the season, rocketing to a career-high No. 5 in the world in the process.
To note she has missed a significant chunk of time this season through injury makes her meteoric rise even more remarkable. The Canadian played just one match between April and July, but yet, she has surged into top five, and moved to the verge of qualifying for the season-ending WTA Finals in Shenzhen for the first time in her career.
Andreescu began the season ranked outside the top-100, but she made her intentions very clear from the start, reaching a maiden tour-level final in Auckland following victories over Caroline Wozniacki and Venus Williams. That set the tone for what was to come, as she claimed the WTA 125K title at Newport Beach, reached the semi-finals in Acapulco, before producing a terrific title run at Indian Wells. The Canadian then made the fourth round in Miami, but a shoulder injury forced her to retire while trailing Anett Kontaveit 6-1 2-0.
She wasn’t seen again until Roland Garros, but that comeback proved premature, as she lasted just one match before pulling out of the tournament. There was nothing premature about her second comeback in Toronto, as Andreescu battled to her second career title, beating top-ten players, Kiki Bertens, Karolina Pliskova and Serena Williams, via retirement, in the final. She subsequently withdrew from Cincinnati, but returned with another bang at the US Open, weaving her way to a maiden Grand Slam title.
Competing in Beijing for the first time, can Andreescu extend her winning streak when she opens against Sasnovich on Monday?
Sasnovich’s form sharply contrasts Andreescu’s, with the Belarusian entering Monday’s Beijing opener on a three match losing streak.
She has won just three main draw matches since May, a run spanning 13 tournaments. Sasnovich spent most of the first half of the season in and around the top-35, but she is currently out of the top-50, following a poor run of form.
The 25-year-old had a steady start to the year, reaching the quarter finals in Brisbane, the semis in Sydney, and the third round of the Australian Open, but she has lost her way since then, stuttering to a 7-17 run. Only once has she won consecutive matches since the Australian Open- in Madrid where she defeated Anett Kontaveit and Anna Karolina Schmiedlova before falling to Naomi Osaka in the third round.
That Madrid result was followed by seven consecutive opening round defeats. Sasnovich recently scrambled one win each in Cincinnati, Bronx and the US Open, but she is yet to get off the mark in the Asian swing, losing to Aleksandra Krunic and Aryna Sabalenka in Guangzhou and Wuhan respectively.
It doesn’t get any easier for the Belarusian, as she takes on the reigning US Open champion, Andreescu for the first time in Beijing on Monday.
Sasnovich is better than her form suggests, but it’s tough to make an argument for Belarusian against the in-form Andreescu. Perhaps, the 19-year-old Canadian may be rusty, and lacking in match sharpness, given that she has not played since the US Open?
“Well, I’m feeling pretty confident,” Andreescu said ahead of her Beijing opener. “I’ve been having some really good practices lately. I had a good training week in Toronto and in Montreal. Now here”.
“I got here four days ago, and I’ve been practicing really well. So I’m feeling pretty confident.”
Andreescu is apparently immune to rustiness, as she has shown an impressive ability to get back into her stride straightaway after a bit of a break. If anything, on the evidence of what we have seen so far, this short recess should refresh the Canadian, and inspire her into bigger successes.
Bianca Andreescu vs Aliaksandra Sasnovich is live from Beijing on Monday, 30 October from 2:00pm local time/ 7:00am BST