Welcome to Tennis Elbow, the column that looks back on the week that was in the world of tennis. This week, Charles Blouin-Gascon recaps the 2021 Miami Open on the women’s side.
In the end, the 2021 Miami Open turned out to be eerily similar to Bianca Andreescu’s career up to this point.
Over the past 10 days or so in Florida, Andreescu rode good health and inspired play as she navigated a tricky draw to win five matches—including four three-setters in a row—to make the 2021 Miami Open final.
This was quite the return to the tour for the youngster who had taken women’s tennis by storm in 2019 in a pre-pandemic world. Because after a layoff that had lasted well over a full year, Andreescu was once again dominating the sport and hitting bigger and better shots than her opponents.
But facing the world No. 1 player in Ashleigh Barty in the final, the Canadian’s old demons flared up again. Down 3-6 and 0-4, Andreescu decided that she had had enough and withdrew, handing the Miami title to the Australian. Two games prior, she had rolled her ankle down 0-2 in the second set and called a medical timeout, but apparently the pain was too much for her to continue.
“Keep your head up, continue to believe in yourself”. – Bianca Andreescu ? pic.twitter.com/2oHsLwOGOp
— TSN (@TSN_Sports) April 3, 2021
What happened after the match?
Speaking after the match, the 20-year-old took a macro view at all that she had endured in the time since winning the 2019 US Open. “For me, getting back on my feet wasn’t easy but I continued to believe in myself and I never gave up,” she said. “So for everyone out there who’s going through a tough time, like me right now, I just wanna say keep your head up and continue to believe in yourself.”
Look, what she said is a cliché but ultimately clichés often exist because of how true they are.
Far from us the idea of doubting the eighth-seed’s injury or to debate whether she should or shouldn’t have finished the match. She felt like she didn’t and couldn’t, and so she didn’t. That’s all that matters.
Instead, we’ll mention how sad it is to see the next great Canadian hope beset by injuries once again. You might have recalled, Andreescu is back in action after missing just about a year and a half with a knee injury. Or rather, the last time we saw her play tennis was in a world where COVID-19 didn’t exist, as she missed the entirety of the pandemic-laden 2020 season—and then some.
It’s great to see Andreescu back in action
But she’s back now, dominating again. In many ways, it’s like she’s picked up right where she left things when she left the tour at the 2019 WTA Finals. It’s like she’s 46-7 again and has just risen from No. 152 to No. 4 in the world. It’s like she’s made a habit again of beating Top 10 players like she used to over almost two years ago. It’s also, sadly, like she’s injured again.
If nothing else, this Miami Open has proven that Andreescu’s future is still as bright as ever. Lest we forget, this final is the first career final she’s lost at one of the big events. (She’s not unlike Naomi Osaka in that respect, though at a lesser scale.)
— Tim and Friends (@timandfriends) April 3, 2021
What happens now?
In the end, everything is different compared where we were in 2019. There’s a pandemic killing thousands of people every day and we’re all wearing masks and afraid to hug one another. We are having tennis matches, sure, but there’s just about nobody watching in the stands and it’s all, like, weird. We have to carry on as if nothing’s changed even though everything has.
Everything is different, except for one thing. Canadian Andreescu is back in action and pummelling opponents to death from the baseline. Much to the chagrin of all WTA players, and the joy of everyone here in Canada, Andreescu is a formidable foe every time she steps on a WTA hard court.
Until, sadly, she has to withdraw from a match due to an injury.
Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG