On the one-year anniversary of her turning professional and her debut at the Citi Open in D.C., 18-year-old Canadian Bianca Andreescu finds herself out of the tournament.
Andreescu received a wild card into the singles draw for the second consecutive year, and was to face Nao Hibino of Japan in the first round.
But a back issue flared up during the Granby Challenger. And it wasn’t helped by some tough tennis. And that is costing her a chance to play the far bigger WTA Tour event this week.
The No. 3 seed in Granby, Andreescu had issues even in the second round, where she defeated 15-year-old countrywoman Leylah-Annie Fernandez in a matched moved indoors.
She had the back looked at after the first set, despite winning it handily.
And then, she went off court for treatment on it during the second, during which she was down 2-4 before running the table to finish it off.
Here’s what it looked like. You can see that Andreescu was in periodic distress.
But the coup de grâce – not the good kind – came in the quarterfinals. Andreescu toughed out a 5-7, 7-5, 6-4 comeback win over Australian lefty Ellen Perez. It took two hours, 19 minutes in the heat and humidity.
But when it came time to play her semifinal against eventual champion Julia Glushko Saturday, Andreescu was a no-go.
Sacroiliac joint to blame
It’s not a new issue for Andreescu, more a recurring theme that has to be managed.
There are various levels of pain associated with problems involving the sacroiliac joint, which is what Andreescu is dealing with.
The consensus is that she won’t make it worse by playing. But Andeescu wants to play. But perhaps she has played too much.
The Canadian also ended up sick after the grass-court swing, which also set her back. She tried to play at the Winnipeg ITF event, but retired down 2-4 in the third set of her first-round match.
In Gatineau, Quebec last week, she also lost in the first round of singles. But she and Carson Branstine won the doubles event in her first attempt at doubles since January.
Quarter-final points go undefended
This first year in the pros has had some highs. But even though Andreescu is arguably a better player than she was a year ago, it’s not yet showing in the rankings.
It’s a marathon, not a sprint, though. And there aren’t many careers that go in a straight line to the top of the game.
After defeating Camila Giorgi and Kristina Mladenovic in the first two rounds in D.C. a year ago, she lost in three sets to Andrea Petkovic in the quarterfinals.
In mid-August, she stood at a career-high No. 143 in the singles rankings and seemed on her way.
Right now, Andreescu stands at No. 185. And that includes a pair of finals appearances during a swing through $25,000 ITF events in Japan in April after she had dropped to No. 221.
In fact, her doubles ranking (No. 150) has been higher than her singles ranking since last October, even though she’s only played two events this season.
Missing the Citi Open is going to hurt. The 60 points she was going to defend are nearly 20 per cent of her total, and her absence will drop her out of the top 200.
Even more key, though, is the Rogers Cup. Her home-country tournament, a Premier 5-level event, takes place the following week.
You would expect, if healthy, that Andreescu would get one of the three wild cards available to the Canadians. One is already assigned to Genie Bouchard; the other two will be distributed to Canadian No. 2 Carol Zhao, Andreescu, Françoise Abanda or even, possibly, the returning Rebecca Marino.
As of Monday, Andreescu will be the No. 3 ranked player in Canada, behind Bouchard and Zhao.
Andreescu got a Rogers Cup wild card last year, and lost 6-4, 6-1 to Timea Babos of Hungary in the first round.