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Andreescu embracing the positives in return to court

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The feeling was both different and familiar on Monday at Roland-Garros as Bianca Andreescu played her first match since last August. 

"It was surreal," the 23-year-old from Mississauga, Ont. told TSN. "I feel like all the work I've put in the past five, six months really paid off. I really felt like myself out there." 

Andreescu defeated world No. 43 Sara Sorribes Tormo of Spain 7-5, 6-1 to advance to the second round at the season’s second Grand Slam. 

"She's a great competitor, so I really had to give my 'A' game," said Andreescu, who is currently No. 228 in the WTA rankings. "I know there were some ups and downs in the first set, but I think it was a great icebreaker for me." 

Andreescu's parents, Maria and Nicu, watched the match at Court 10. 

"They're everything to me," said Andreescu, who shared a hug with her mom after match point. "They've been through the ups and downs along the way."

It's been a long road back for Andreescu, who admits the recovery from a stress fracture in her back took longer than expected. It was only the latest injury to fell the 2019 US Open champion. She's played a full slate of majors in just one season during her five years on tour. 

"Every time I do have a time where I'm away from the sport I feel like I grow tremendously in every area of my life," she said. "The thing I like to discover is just how much I can take with all these challenges that come towards me."

When she stays healthy, Andreescu has shown she's one of the best players in the world, rising to No. 4 during that breakout 2019 season. 

Last year, Andreescu reached the fourth round in Miami before sustaining an ankle injury. She also made it to the third round at both Roland-Garros and Wimbledon, where she pushed eventual finalist Ons Jabeur to a third set in her Centre Court debut. 

"I know there's always going to be expectations because I know how well I can play," Andreescu said. "For me, yes, I do want to have fun. I do want to enjoy myself but, at the end of the day, the competitor just comes out of me every single match." 

Andreescu says being competitive is what she misses most when sidelined. 

"I know I say, 'Oh, doesn't matter win or lose,' but honestly I do really want to win. I really do miss the feeling of holding a trophy and I really hope I can manifest that."

Back in 2019, Andreescu held the trophy at the US Open and also at the big events at Indian Wells and Toronto. But the strain of increased expectations in the ensuing years weighed on her and Andreescu took a sabbatical from tour to focus on her mental health in late 2021 and early 2022. 

"I do see a lot of belief in my game and how I'm handling myself mentally," she said. "I know that it's not going to be an easy road, but I just want to keep embracing the positive that I continue to see. I know there are many glimpses, even before I had my [latest] break, of me playing amazing tennis."

Andreescu has always used meditation to help her stay balanced and she's leaning on that even more now. 

"I'm really taking my meditation to another level," she said. "I'm doing some very in-depth meditations that are, like, an hour, hour-and-a-half long, even two hours."

Andreescu is living in the moment and didn't even want to know her next opponent when she met with reporters after Monday's win in Paris. 

"Somebody told me right after, so it doesn't matter anymore," Andreescu said with a laugh. 

On Thursday, she will face No. 23 seed Anna Kalinskaya for the first time. 

"She's one of my good friends on tour," Andreescu said. "She has a great game style and I think it will be a fun matchup. I know she likes to change the rhythm a little bit as well and she's a fighter."

The pair bumped into each other after their opening wins. 

"We just smiled and laughed," Andreescu said. "It is what it is. The tour can kind of be like that sometimes. We'll be respectful, but every woman for herself."

With the French Open starting on Sunday and the first-round matches spread out over three days, Andreescu finds herself with a rare two-day break between matches at a tournament. 

"I don't know if it helps me," she said. "I guess it's good that I can execute tactics a bit more than I would've if I only had one day off, per se. So, I guess getting into that routine of how I want to play my match, it's good in that way. On the opposite end, I just want to play matches."

Andreescu smiles.  

"Like, I don't want to have any more days off, you know?"