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Andreescu’s ‘Aha second’ made Australian Open win potential

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MELBOURNE, Australia — Bianca Andreescu traces the trail that introduced her again to the tennis tour after a psychological well being break — and, on Monday, put her again within the win column due to beating a seeded opponent on the Australian Open — to what she calls “an ‘Aha’ second” on a seashore in Costa Rica throughout a religious retreat practically a yr in the past.

Right here, then, is how the 22-year-old Canadian described that epiphany in an interview with The Related Press at Melbourne Park: “I’m meant to play the game and use it as a platform to be an inspiration for others.”

Andreescu, who beat Serena Williams within the 2019 U.S. Open ultimate as a teen, went by means of a sequence of well being points, together with catching COVID-19, that derailed her profession in 2020 and slowed her in 2021, too. She additionally break up from her longtime coach. All in all, there was so much happening — after beating No. 25 seed Marie Bouzkova 6-2, 6-4 at Courtroom 3 on Monday, Andreescu used the phrase “hectic” to explain that interval — and she or he went six months with out taking part in a match from October 2021 to April 2022, together with sitting out final yr’s Australian Open.

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“That was after I began to ask myself the query: Is that this value it? Is that this life value it? As a result of I used to be very stressed with many issues: Individuals in my life; the way in which I used to be myself within the mirror,” Andreescu mentioned. “Simply holding a tennis racket, I didn’t really feel completely happy anymore. Or content material. As a result of normally, happening the court docket is my getaway place — and it stopped feeling like that.”

She realized she wanted to re-evaluate the place she was and the place she was headed.

“Do I maintain pushing and pushing and hope for the most effective? Or do I take a step again? In order that’s what I did. I took a break. And I did different issues outdoors of tennis. I did lots of charity work. I travelled to a couple locations. Frolicked with buddies I hadn’t frolicked with in two or three years. I began taking part in soccer once more. I did some skating. I began martial arts. I did dancing. A bunch of different issues. And it actually made me respect tennis much more,” Andreescu mentioned with a large smile. “I truthfully didn’t know after I was going to select up a racket once more.”

Throughout her time in Costa Rica final February, Andreescu discovered a brand new state of mind.

“I felt significantly better in 2022 than I did in 2021, when after losses, I felt so discouraged,” she mentioned. “Now I simply wish to get again on court docket. I really feel very motivated.”

Certain appeared that method in opposition to Bouzkova, a U.S. Open quarter-finalist final yr.

Andreescu blended up her pictures and overpowered her foe when choosing huge cuts on groundstrokes.

“Simply didn’t give me a lot area to breathe and to kind of get my momentum going,” Bouzkova mentioned.

Andreescu mentioned she felt a mixture of nerves and reduction on the finish Monday, as a result of she actually needed to win.

Which she did and now will face A hundredth-ranked Cristina Bucsa of Spain because the journey continues.

“I wish to say what my mother at all times tells me: `Observe your coronary heart.’ That’s what I did. I’ve a powerful instinct, I’d say, and I really feel like lots of different individuals do. So belief your intestine,” Andreescu mentioned, pointing her interlocking fingers towards her coronary heart. “When you don’t really feel good in one thing for some time — I didn’t really feel good for 2 or three months — I’d say to take a step again, for those who can.”

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BIG STEP FOR CHINA’S MEN

Teenage qualifier Shang Juncheng turned the primary Chinese language man to win a main-draw match on the Australian Open within the skilled period, beating Germany’s Oscar Otte 6-2, 6-4, 6-7 (2), 7-5.

“I feel it’s enormous for Chinese language males’s tennis,” mentioned the 17-year-old Shang, who hit 34 winners. “We’ve got had actually good gamers from the ladies’s facet, however probably not huge names within the males’s.”

Added Shang: “Hopefully we are able to do one thing huge sooner or later.”

Shang, the 2021 U.S. Open junior runner-up, is the primary 17-year-old to win his first Grand slam match since present No. 1-ranked Carlos Alcaraz did it on the Australian Open two years in the past.

“Fairly a giant accomplishment,” Shang mentioned. “Wanting as much as Carlos, he’s the most effective participant on the planet proper now. Simply watching him play on the court docket actually evokes me, evokes the younger, younger gamers.”

China positioned three males in the principle draw of a Grand Slam occasion for the primary time.

Wu Yibing misplaced his first-round match to France’s Corentin Moutet on Monday. Zhang Zhizhen performs American Brian Shelton on Tuesday.

WATCHING THE BILLS

Jessica Pegula ready for her first-round victory on the Australian Open by watching on TV because the Buffalo Payments edged the Miami Dolphins 34-31 of their opening sport of the NFL playoffs.

The No. 3-seeded Pegula, whose mother and father personal the Payments and the NHL’s Sabres, mentioned she awoke at 7 a.m. Monday in Melbourne — which was 3 p.m. Sunday in New York — and watched a lot of the second half earlier than happening to defeat Jacqueline Cristian 6-0, 6-1 at Margaret Courtroom Enviornment.

“It was a troublesome sport. Not the prettiest of wins,” Pegula mentioned in regards to the Payments. “Positively an unsightly win, I feel.”

“It’s like first sport, playoffs, everyone seems to be form of nervous, lots of rigidity,” she added, likening it to the jitters earlier than an preliminary match at a Grand Slam match.

“It was enjoyable clearly for them to get that win earlier than I went on court docket,” Pegula mentioned. “It wouldn’t have actually affected me, I don’t suppose, however I’d have simply been aggravated that they misplaced.”

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