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Mark Masters



Bianca Andreescu usually doesn't watch her old matches.

"I don't like to watch myself play," the 19-year-old revealed, "just like nobody likes to hear their voice on camera, it's kind of the same thing."

But when it comes ​to the 2019 US Open, she's willing to make an exception.

"I watched the finals again, but only the last couple games," Andreescu said. "Every time someone brings it up or every time I watch a video of me holding up the trophy it brings back so many feelings and such good memories."

Canadian fans can relive the moment on Sunday at 8 pm ET as TSN5 will air the US Open championship match between Andreescu and Serena Williams.

What does Andreescu remember most about that day last September?

"Just laying on the tennis court," the Mississauga, Ont. native said. "Just that moment on the court and finally letting everything sink in, thinking about how all the hard work I put in throughout the years, all the sacrifices, really paid off. And I was just so grateful, at that moment, that I never gave up."​

Andreescu led 6-3, 5-1 and held a championship point before Williams roared back to level the second set. The crowd inside Arthur Ashe Stadium, the largest venue in tennis, was roaring, anxious to see Williams tie Margaret Court atop the all-time standings by claiming a 24th major. Instead, the fans in New York witnessed a different kind of history as Andreescu regrouped to become the first Canadian to win a singles grand slam.

"Well, I didn't have as much pressure, I don't think, as Serena did," Andreescu points out. "She was playing someone younger, she was playing someone who had never reached a grand slam final."

That inexperience could've been a disadvantage, but it turned into an asset as Andreescu harnessed the same fearlessness that carried her to hard-court titles at Indian Wells and Toronto earlier in the season.

"I went into the match with the mentality to just keep fighting for every point no matter who's on the other side," she recalled. "I think that really helped me stay in the present moment as much as I could even though the crowd was going crazy. At one point I had to plug my ears, because it was super crazy. In that moment I told myself, 'Just try and win as many points as you can so they can shut up,' and I was just going for my shots."

Andreescu hasn't gone for any shots this season because before the pandemic pause she was sidelined with a knee injury. Andreescu had been on track to return at the Miami Open in March but now, like every other player in the world, she is in limbo. The tour won't resume until mid-July at the earliest.

The future, however, remains incredibly bright for the World No. 6, who spoke with TSN via Skype this week and looked ahead to better times. The following is an edited transcript of the interview.

You've noted that creative visualization is a key part of your success. You visualized winning the US Open long before you actually did it. With no events any time soon, what are you visualizing right now?

"Well, it's definitely not easy. It's not the ideal scenario, because we don't know when tennis will come back and when sports in general will come back, when anything will come back. The main thing I'm doing to stay positive is I'm doing this mini-gratitude meditation where I just think of the things that I'm grateful for every single morning even if it's very small like having food on the table or just being with family, having a home to be in during these tough times. I think that's the one thing that's helping me stay productive and hopeful for the future. And, I'm also using creative visualization to see myself play tennis since I can't play right now so at least I'm using my mind to do that. Yeah, just staying as hopeful as possible."

Before this pandemic, the only thing that has slowed you down during the last 18 months has been injuries. Are you changing your approach at all to deal with that or is more just bad luck?

"There's good and bad in every situation but, for me, having these injuries at such a young age, in my view, is beneficial because it really helps me understand my body more and what I want physically and mentally and also knowing what my threshold is and all of that. So, that will help me prevent more injuries in the future, I would hope. I'm trying to take it as positively as I can, because I've learned so much about myself during those times so I'm definitely grateful. It's a bittersweet period when that happens."

ESPN analyst Brad Gilbert told me last week that if you were healthy to start the season he thinks you'd already be No. 1 in the world. Have you set goals for whenever tennis resumes?

"Yes and becoming No. 1 has always been up there. Maybe the French Open will be held in September, who knows, hopefully, and from the beginning of the year, I spoke to my coach, and the goal was to win the French Open. And since the French Open could still be a possibility then that's still my goal. And, if I can do that, I don't know what the rankings are going to be, but if I do that then I think I'll have a good chance to become No. 1."

And we know clay is your favourite surface.

"Yes sir!"

Is there a player that you have never played that you are looking forward to playing?

"(World No. 1 Ashleigh) Barty, I would love to play her, because she's one of the women on tour that has a different game style than most and it'll be a nice challenge to play her."

That would be a real chess match.

"Definitely. Slice to slice, drop shot after drop shot, yup, it would definitely be a fun match for the audience, maybe not for us, we'd be out of breath (smiles)."

What would it be like to play childhood idol Kim Clijsters?

"Oh my goodness, that's right! I actually got to meet her for the first time at Indian Wells before everything got cancelled. We had a very nice encounter. She was super sweet and knowing she's back on the tour actually gives me a chance to maybe play her in the future. That would be insane. I don't know, man, I was like starstruck when I saw her, but actually playing her? Pfft, I don't know, maybe I can bring my skills that I brought against Serena against her."

Why did you admire Clijsters so much?

"Well, she was one of the first players I ever saw play and I was just mesmerized by her game style, because it was so different from everyone else and, at that point, I told myself, 'I want to be that, I want to be different,' and when I stepped on the court I kind of just had that mentality ever since and I thank her for that because it's definitely helped me."

Obviously, we won't see any WTA tennis played on a court any time soon, but you do have a competition coming up. You'll be taking part in the first ever virtual Madrid Open. How are your gaming skills?

"I used to play Xbox. I had to throw my Xbox out at one point because I was playing too much, but I got it again. Now, we're playing on PlayStation so they sent me a PlayStation and I'm, honestly, ready. I've been practising. I had never played the game before but I've been practising and I think I have a good chance. I'm excited. It's like the closest thing we'll get to sports for a while."