April 22, 2024

Open Court

MORE TENNIS THAN YOU'LL EVER NEED

Tournament ambassador Andreescu practices at Indian Wells (vid)

INDIAN WELLS – It doesn’t appear that 2019 US Open champion Bianca Andreescu is close to returning to the match court.

But at least she’s ON the court.

And as she made a three-day pitstop at the BNP Paribas Open, scene of the first big title of her incredible 2019 season – as a “tournament ambassador” – she also managed some practice time.

Here’s what it looked like.

(And no, we don’t know why she was hitting so many slices. And exclusively slice on the backhand. But this was towards the end of her practice session. We efforted HARD to get even a brief interview with the 23-year-old Canadian. But she was “too busy” with tournament activities. Don’t ask).

No coach at the moment

It’s unclear where Andreescu is headed, although it seems she’s hoping for a return on the clay even if that seems like an accelerated timetable. Her last match was at the Montreal event last August.

She no longer is working with Christophe Lambert, who joined the team after her last comeback.

Andreescu did run into him Thursday, but Lambert is here working with a young Chinese junior.

She had a galpal with her on the trip. But at the moment it appears there’s just hitting partner J.T. Nishimura (he of the two-handed forehand) and fitness trainer Clément Golliet on board.

We’re not sure what being a “tournament ambassador” entails beyond a cheque. But it’s a gig that for the most part is bestowed upon former players, who gladhand and visit suites and that sort of thing.

Andreescu did do a puff-piece interview for the tournament website. She signed autographs and posed for pics with fans.

Olympics coming quickly

With the Olympics coming up in Paris – and a lot of players keen on taking part, given the iconic venue – Andreescu might squeeze in.

Her current ranking sits at No. 145. But she has 335 points to defend between now and the end of Roland Garros, which is the ranking deadline for the Olympics.

That’s about 60 per cent of her total points; without them, she’d be at close to No. 350. So there’s really no way for her to qualify on her ranking.

The path to Paris goes through her protected ranking, which stands at No. 64.

That’s borderline at the moment, but she might make it.

Andreescu didn’t play the Tokyo Olympics, withdrawing due to pandemic-related challenges in the summer of 2021.

She’ll be 28 for the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles. And that’s almost a lifetime away.

Hopefully everything goes well with the return to full fitness, and she doesn’t have any setbacks.

At any rate, it’s great to see her on a tennis court.

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