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Andreescu retains Grand Slam champion mindset 4 years after U.S. Open triumph

Bianca Andreescu approaches each match like a Grand Slam champion, because she is one.

Nearly four years after winning a U.S. Open title, her confidence is undiminished.

“I definitely believe that my level is top 10 and I am still a Grand Slam champion,” Andreescu told The Canadian Press. “In a way, every time I lose, it’s like that person’s beating a Grand Slam champion. I always have that in my head.”

Andreescu’s performances in recent years, however, haven’t lived up to that standard.

Injury after injury and an inability to build any real momentum have led to a 15-14 singles record this year and a No. 44 world ranking entering the National Bank Open next week in Montreal.

The 23-year-old from Mississauga, Ont., gives her season so far a six-out-of-10 rating and says her “patience is running thin because I know how well I can do,” but also feels that her hard work to get healthy will start paying off.

At Wimbledon last month, Andreescu showed progress and gave world No. 5 Ons Jabeur everything she could handle in the third round before the Tunisian star went on a run to the final.

“We are starting to see all the benefits of all the work she’s been doing, but it hasn’t been easy,” said Christophe Lambert, Andreescu’s coach since November. “It’s always frustrating when you can’t really perform at the level you expect because you got some injuries, but I think we’re getting there.

“The Wimbledon game against Ons gave her back the appetite to be performing on a big stage in front of a big crowd, and that’s what she wants. I think that’s what motivates her.”

Although Andreescu lost in a third-set tiebreak to open the hard-court season in Washington on Monday versus Ukraine’s Marta Kostyuk, who fended off three match points, it’s still her best surface.

Wins at Indian Wells and the National Bank Open in Toronto in 2019 sparked her run to the U.S. Open title over Serena Williams weeks later, launching her career to another level as the first Canadian to collect a Grand Slam in singles.

Andreescu, who says she’s finally feeling healthy, believes she needs to find some consistency and get matches under her belt to rediscover the form that once had her ranked No. 4 in the world.

Lambert adds that Andreescu needs more self-belief in her shotmaking ability, instead of second-guessing herself.

“She’s got good weapons and she needs to believe in it,” he said. “And if [the shot is] not in the court, it’s not in the court, but she needs to believe more in her game at the moment compared to the beginning of the year.

“That’s something she had in the past, this creativity and this instinct in the game, and I think with confidence she will get that back.”

As much as injuries have made things difficult, Lambert says it’s also given them an opportunity to take a step back and work on some things they otherwise might not have.

When Andreescu injured her ankle at the Miami Open, Lambert postponed his planned holiday break to help with the rehabilitation.

He says tennis players can be reluctant to work on techniques they are not yet good at because of the risk of trying something new and losing points in a match.

With no competition while Andreescu recovered, she opened up.

Steve Carr

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