Canada’s Bianca Andreescu says she is physically and mentally ready to return to competitive play for the first time in 15 months.
She met with reporters in a pre-tournament availability ahead of the Australian Open on Friday (late Thursday Eastern Time) and says she trusts her capabilities and is in a really good place right now.
“I’ve prepared in the best way that I could,” Andreescu said. “I had a good five-month pre-season I would say, and at this point, I’m just super-grateful to be back healthy.
“I’m really looking forward to it.”
The 20-year-old from Mississauga, Ont., hasn’t played a competitive match since injuring her left knee at the WTA Finals in 2019, a couple months after winning the US Open.
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.
After arriving Down Under last month and enduring a two-week hard quarantine, Andreescu had planned to play a warmup event this week but decided to withdraw on the eve of competition.
Andreescu said she decided that more on-court training time and playing sets on her own was a better approach.
“The mentality from the start was that I probably wouldn’t play,” she said from Melbourne. “But I wanted to see how I would feel on the court. We just thought that it didn’t make sense.”
Andreescu touched on a variety of topics during the 20-minute availability.
She said she kept busy during the quarantine period with shadow tennis drills, Zoom fitness sessions and Xbox, with “Call of Duty” being her game of choice.
Andreescu also finally offered specifics on the knee injury that ended her 2019 season, confirming she suffered a torn meniscus.
She added that her coach, Sylvain Bruneau, was doing well and is back helping her with training. He tested positive for COVID-19 after arriving in Australia on a flight from Abu Dhabi.
Andreescu said Bruneau had to stay an extra day in quarantine. He’s scheduled to hold a conference call of his own on Friday afternoon.
Andreescu enjoyed a meteoric rise in 2019 after starting the season ranked No. 152 in the world. She closed the year at No. 5 despite missing some time throughout the season due to injuries.
She earned titles at Indian Wells, Calif., and Toronto that year before winning her first Grand Slam title in New York.
Andreescu was on Canada’s Fed Cup roster for a tie in Switzerland last February but didn’t play due to her knee injury. She announced in September that she would take the rest of the season off to focus on health and training.
Andreescu, currently ranked eighth in the world, has shown in the past that she can quickly get back to a high level of play after a break.
She played just one match in a four-month span leading up to the 2019 Rogers Cup and ended up winning the tournament.
The singles draw for the opening Grand Slam of the 2021 season was scheduled to be released on Friday.
First-round play begins Monday at Melbourne Park.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 4, 2021.
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Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press