June 18, 2024

Open Court


Whenever it ends, an encouraging RG comeback for Bianca Andreescu

ROLAND GARROS – First came the return after nearly 10 months, against almost the perfect opponent in Sara Sorribes Tormo.


Second came a bigger theoretical challenge against hard-hitting baseliner and No. 23 seed Anna Kalinskaya.

Handled – barely. The 1-6, 7-5, 6-3 score tells you all you need to know.

On Saturday, Canadian Bianca Andreescu takes on a challenger – No. 12 seed Jasmine Paolini – who is somewhere in the middie. She hits with reasonably good pace, and also defends brilliantly with her court movement.

She’s also, at 28, playing the best tennis of her life. The two are meeting for the first time.

Can Andreescu make the second week of Roland Garros, in her first tournament since last August?

That will be determined later today on Court Suzanne-Lenglen.

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A great escape vs. Kalinskaya

The Russian is the type of opponent that Andreescu 2.0 has struggled with. The fact that her innate confidence in her varied, multifaceted game has taken a hit, combined with the lack of tennis, has meant that she’ll typically regress a little bit and try to slug it out from the baseline with that type of player.

Against Kalinskaya, late Thursday night after a long, long wait during a rainy day, that’s what happened for the first set and a half.

Credit also to Kalinskaya, who pinned her back there under the watchful eye of dedicated new beau Jannik Sinner (who had a match the next day, too).

“I mean, this whole day was crazy. I wasn’t sure if I was playing. Having to wait all day was a bit frustrating, obviously. The first set, it just took me a while to get into the match, and obviously she played really well. And I was like, ‘Oh, my God. Okay, what I do now?’ I literally asked for help from above. I’m not even kidding you,” Andreesu said, around midnight once it was all over.

But by the latter stages of the second set (pure concidence, after Sinner left to get some shut-eye), she slowly started putting it together.

There was a point at 4-4 in the second where she pulled out ALL of the tools. In the end, she lost that point. But the cover was off the cookie tin.

“I said to myself that If I don’t go for it, she will. Meaning really hitting through with my shots and keeping her basically behind the baseline, because she loves being in the court. Obviously, she’s really dangerous there,” Andreescu said. “And just very focused on my service games. And I think I did that really well in the second and third set. And just trying to manage my emotions was a bit difficult.”

The 23-year-old actually did that rather well; there were susprisingly few visible moments of frustration. And by the third set she said she was feeling in the legs – something she also camouflaged fairly effectively even if it required an ice bath after the win.

Despite the long wait to play on Thursday, Andreescu has been on schedule, with the usual days off. That’s quite unlike some of the other players who had to go back-to-back. So that should help.

The cold, damp, slow conditions might not help as much against a great defender. But that’s to be determined.

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