Canada’s Bianca Andreescu makes a forehand return to Romania’s Mihaela Buzarnescu during their first round match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Monday, Feb. 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Hamish Blair

Canada’s Bianca Andreescu makes a forehand return to Romania’s Mihaela Buzarnescu during their first round match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Monday, Feb. 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Hamish Blair

Canada’s Bianca Andreescu wins opening match at Australian Open

First-round win over Romania’s Mihaela Buzarnescu

MELBOURNE, Australia — When faced with adversity in her first competitive match in 15 months, Bianca Andreescu recalled how she persevered in some of her big victories in her breakout 2019 season.

It helped the Canadian overcome a stiff challenge in a 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 first-round win over Romania’s Mihaela Buzarnescu on Monday at the Australian Open.

Serving at 3-3 in the deciding set and down love-40, Andreescu reeled off five straight points for the hold and took control of the match from there.

“I have a little bit of a feel of how it is to be in that situation,” she said. “But I was super-relieved to get that game because I’m sure things would have been different afterwards (otherwise).”

Andreescu said it reminded her of a similar three-set win over Angelique Kerber in the 2019 Indian Wells final.

“I was just thinking about that and how calm I was during that match,” she said. “So I was telling myself, ‘Stay calm. Stay cool and just put your first serve in — because I think my first serve today was very effective — which I did.”

A service break followed and Andreescu served out for the win, completing the victory with an overhead smash.

It was part of an impressive 5-0 Day 1 performance by Canadian players at Melbourne Park.

Milos Raonic of Thornhill, Ont., and Vancouver’s Rebecca Marino posted straight-set victories in the morning draw. Felix Auger-Aliassime of Montreal and Denis Shapovalov of Richmond Hill, Ont., earned wins later in the day.

Shapovalov, the No. 11 seed, was pushed the distance by Italy’s Jannik Sinner, needing all five sets to complete a 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 win in nearly four hours. The 20th-seeded Auger-Aliassime cruised to a 6-2, 6-4, 6-2 win over German lucky loser Cedrik-Marcel Stebe.

Raonic, the No. 14 seed, dispatched Argentina’s Federico Coria 6-3, 6-3, 6-2 while Marino beat Australian wild-card entry Kimberly Birrell 6-0, 7-6 (9). It was Marino’s first Grand Slam appearance since 2013.

Seeded eighth in Melbourne, Andreescu appeared to get a favourable opening matchup in drawing the 138th-ranked Buzarnescu. But the veteran left-hander gave Andreescu all she could handle.

Andreescu looked like she hadn’t missed a beat in a tidy opening set. Her aggressiveness paid off early but Buzarnescu raised her game in the second set, going for more winners and forcing Andreescu into a more defensive posture.

However, Andreescu was poised in the decider and ramped up her play when needed.

Unforced errors were rather high for both players — Andreescu had 34 compared to 29 for her opponent — but the Canadian had a 27-11 edge in winners.

“I don’t want to be too hard on myself,” Andreescu said. “It’s my first match back. I’m just super-relieved that I was able to win today.”

Andreescu tore her left meniscus at the WTA Tour finals in October 2019. The injury hampered her in early 2020 and she declined to return when the WTA Tour resumed play after taking a break due to the pandemic.

Andreescu appeared quite comfortable on court in her return and seemed to be moving well. She mixed her shots up nicely to keep Buzarnescu off balance.

Andreescu will meet Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-Wei in the second round.

Ranked outside the top 150 prior to 2019, Andreescu won three tournaments that year and became one of the biggest stars in the sport. A win over Serena Williams at the U.S. Open made Andreescu Canada’s first Grand Slam singles champion.

After a two-week hard quarantine upon arrival in Melbourne, Andreescu pulled out of a warmup tournament last week on the eve of the competition. She decided instead to maximize her practice and training time for the first Grand Slam of the 2021 season.

Her coach, Sylvain Bruneau, watched Monday’s match from a front-row seat at a mostly empty John Cain Arena. Bruneau tested positive for COVID-19 after arriving in Australia last month but said he’s feeling fine now.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 8, 2021.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A cross-country skier glides along the banks of the Ottawa River in Ottawa on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. Canadians across the country can look forward to a mild spring peppered with the odd winter flashback throughout the first part of the season, according to predictions from one prominent national forecaster. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Mild spring with some wintry blasts predicted for most of Canada: Weather Network

March will be dramatically warmer through the prairies

A memorial for those killed and injured in a deadly crash involving the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team bus is visible at the intersection of Highways 35 and 335 near Tisdale, Sask., on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Liam Richards
‘More pain:’ Some Broncos families angry over request in court to delay lawsuit

Eleven lawsuits were filed after the crash on April 6, 2018

Erika Fetterly, owner of EFP Studios, recently launched the Let Them Have A Voice campaign. (Contributed photo)
Central Alberta photographer’s campaign aims to give youths a voice

An Innisfail photographer is giving a platform to young central Albertans so… Continue reading

Chopped Canada-winning chef Pete Sok is trying to focus on the future as he reopens Boulevard Restaurant and Lounge in the Holiday Inn on Gasoline Alley during the pandemic. (Contributed photo)
Red Deer’s celebrity chef looks past the pandemic with new restaurant opportunity

Pete Sok is reopening Boulevard Restaurant — and betting on the future

Red Deer science-communicating dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped save a missing pet recently. The two dogs have more than 80,000 followers on Twitter. (Contributed photo)
WATCH: Red Deer science dogs help save lost pet

Red Deer science-communicating dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped rescue a missing pet… Continue reading

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney speaks during a news conference in Edmonton on Feb. 24, 2020. It’s budget day in the province, and Kenney’s United Conservative government is promising more help in the fight against COVID, but more red ink on the bottom line. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta Premier slams vandalism after slur painted on MLA’s office window

EDMONTON — Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is condemning alleged vandalism at the… Continue reading

Canada Pension Plan Investment Board President and Chief Executive Officer Mark Machin waits to appear at the Standing Committee on Finance on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa on Tuesday, November 1, 2016. Executives who engage in so-called "vaccine tourism" show both an ethical disregard for those less fortunate and a surprising lack of business acumen, experts argue. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine tourism is both unethical and bad for business, experts say

Executives who engage in so-called “vaccine tourism” show both an ethical disregard… Continue reading

Edmonton Oilers' Jesse Puljujarvi (13) and Toronto Maple Leafs' Justin Holl (3) battle in front as goalie Jack Campbell (36) makes the save during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, February 27, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
No Matthews, no problem: Minus NHL goal leader, Maple Leafs blank Oilers 4-0

Leafs 4 Oilers 0 EDMONTON — The Maple Leafs knew even with… Continue reading

Leader of the Government in the House of Commons Pablo Rodriguez rises during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Gummed-up bills in House of Commons: harbinger of a federal election?

OTTAWA — All federal party leaders maintain they don’t want an election… Continue reading

The Pornhub website is shown on a computer screen in Toronto on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS
Pornhub policies reveal legal gaps and lack of enforcement around exploitive videos

OTTAWA — Serena Fleites was in seventh grade when a sexually explicit… Continue reading

Sean Hoskin stands on a neighbourhood street in Halifax on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. Hoskin was diagnosed with COVID-19 almost a year ago with symptoms that still persist. Some provinces have established programs to deal with long-term sufferers but Atlantic Canada, with relatively low numbers of patients, has yet to provide a resource to assist them. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
On East Coast, exhausted COVID-19 ‘long haulers’ hope specialized clinics will emerge

HALIFAX — On evenings when Sean Hoskin collapses into bed, heart pounding… Continue reading

Ottawa Senators goaltender Matt Murray (30) stands in his crease as Calgary Flames left wing Andrew Mangiapane (88), left to right, defenceman Rasmus Andersson (4), Matthew Tkachuk (19), Mikael Backlund (11) and Mark Giordano (5) celebrate a goal during second period NHL action in Ottawa on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Calgary Flames beat Ottawa 6-3 to end Senators’ three-game win streak

Flames 6 Senators 3 OTTAWA — The Calgary Flames used a balanced… Continue reading

Crosses are displayed in memory of the elderly who died from COVID-19 at the Camilla Care Community facility during the COVID-19 pandemic in Mississauga, Ont., on November 19, 2020. The number of people who would have died from a COVID-19 infection is likely to be much higher than recorded because of death certificates don't always list the virus as the cause of a fatality, experts say. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Death certificates don’t accurately reflect the toll of the pandemic, experts say

The number of people who would have died from a COVID-19 infection… Continue reading

Most Read