PARIS — Canada’s Bianca Andreescu rallied from a set and a break down to defeat 18th seed Victoria Azarenka, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the first round of the French Open. The victory is Andreescu’s first of the clay season and second Top 20 win of the year.
The former World No.4 will face Emma Navarro in the second round.
In a rare opening-round match between two major champions, Andreescu snapped a three-match losing streak by overcoming a 6-2, 3-1 deficit. The 22-year-old from Mississauga, Ontario withstood the Azarenka’s return pressure to save 12 of 16 break points in the hotly-contested 2-hour and 30-minute match.
“I’m going to be honest, this match I started thinking about my grandmother because she’s getting old, and I’m very close to her,” Andreescu said. “She said, ‘Bianca, I really want to watch you win another major.’
“So I had that in the back of my head at one point when I was down 3-1. I started to get emotional too. At that point something just came out of me, and I started playing better.”
Andreescu finished the match with 47 winners to 24 unforced errors. Azarenka hit 33 winners to 27 unforced errors.
“I told myself if I even want to make this a close match, I have to change something,” Andreescu said. “I told myself, go for it. I started serving better. I started returning better. Yeah, it definitely felt good.
“My fighting spirit is back, so that feels nice.”
The victory snapped Andreescu’s three-match losing streak, dating back to her injury retirement to Ekaterina Alexandrova in the fourth round of the Miami Open. In her final hard-court match of the spring, Andreescu tore multiple ligaments in her right ankle. After weeks of rehab was able to return to competition in Madrid and Rome, but took opening-round losses to Wang Xiyu and Marketa Vondrousova.
“Over the past few weeks I had a lot of bad days and a lot of negative thoughts crept in,” Andreescu said. “This match definitely gives me confidence in that sense. I want to go back to how hungry I was in 2019 more than ever.”
It’s still a trial-and-error process for Andreescu. Asked how she plans to rediscover the hunger that propelled her breakout 2019 season, Andreescu threw her hands up.
“I wish I knew,” she said. “I would tell the whole world. I would help the whole fricking world.
“I don’t know. Honestly, I’m trying to figure it out. There’s good days; there’s bad days. That’s the sport. You are never always going to play 100% unless you’re Alcaraz right now and Iga.
“Jokes aside, I’m just trying to give my best every single day. I know if I stay patient, results will come.”
Playing in her fourth Roland Garros main draw, Andreescu needs one more win to post her best result in Paris. She has advanced as far as the second round just twice, in 2019 and 2022.
- Andreescu beats Azarenka at Roland Garros
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