The 21 & Under Club, 2020 Edition: Bianca AndreescuBy Aug 02, 2020
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The 21 & Under Club, 2020 Edition: Bianca Andreescu
The Canadian is already a proven star, but is only just starting to realize her potential.
Published Aug 02, 2020
As we reveal this year's edition of The 21 & Under Club, we'd like to call your attention to Team Luke Hope for Minds, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that supports families with children who have suffered an acquired brain injury. Headed by former Texas Tech tennis coach Tim Siegel—whose son, Luke, suffered severe head and chest trauma from a golf cart accident which resulted in an anoxic brain injury—Team Luke Hope for Minds has lost numerous fundraising opportunities throughout 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
To learn more about the organization, and for information on how to donate, go to teamlukehopeforminds.org
WTA Rank: No. 6
**UTR Rank: No. 1
What she's done since last summer: Won the Rogers Cup in Toronto, as well as the US Open**
According to UTR, Andreescu isn’t just the best 21-and-under player in the world—she’s the best player, period. Ranked 178th on tour at the end of 2018, Andreescu shot up to No. 5 a year later. In between, she became Canada's first Grand Slam singles champion.
No matter what metric you use, it's clear that we're talking about an outstanding player who, incredibly, is only beginning to realize her potential.
Perhaps nobody owns a more complete game than the Mississauga, Ontario native. Andreescu defeats opponents with a rare combination of power and finesse, but just as importantly, mental toughness. Compatriot Steve Nash couldn’t believe Andreescu's championship mentality and poise under pressure after watching her defeat Serena Williams in last year's US Open final.
“What freaking guts to battle the GOAT and her army of 20,000 plus,” he said. “She’s different.”
Andy Roddick, a former US Open champion himself, agrees.
“I don’t watch too much, but Andreescu is exciting.” Roddick said. “You [may] not know anything about tennis, but still feel like you’re recognizing someone doing really outstanding things.”
Andreescu embodies the cliché “if you can dream it, you can do it.” She’s one of tennis’ biggest believers in visualization and meditation—so much that, in 2015, Andreescu literally presented herself with a US Open winner's cheque. Every year, she would increase the value on the check to correspond with the increase in tournament prize money, but she always put down 2019 for the year.
“We create our reality with our mind,” Andreescu says. “Our mind is one of most powerful tools that we have.”
Andreescu is poised to remain atop the women’s game for as long as her body allows. Since 2019, she owns 48-7 record on the WTA tour, but two of those losses came via mid-match withdrawals. When healthy, Andreescu has proved she is the woman to beat.
Andreescu owns a devastating serve-plus-one combo, quickly punishing any weak reply.
Much like the recently retired Agnieszka Radwankska, Andreescu can hit clean winners while nearly sitting on the ground. This level of strength, flexibility and balance cannot be taught.
Again, we see Andreescu drop her hips all the way to the ground to absorb the pace of Belinda Bencic’s hard-hit return.
Most WTA players can hit clean winners from all over the court, but unlike Andreescu, they don’t have the variety or craftiness to keep their opponents off balance throughout a match. Andreescu describes it as her “junk in the trunk.”
Here, Andreescu counters one of Sofia Kenin’s change-of-pace moon-balls with an off-speed shot of her own. Do not try the fake-overhead drop shot at home. Andreescu owns the confidence to pull off funky shots like this on the world’s biggest stages.
Here, Andreescu loads up as if to crush a forehand to the open court. But as she senses Bencic retreating behind the baseline, she switches to a slice at the last second for a clean drop-shot winner. These types of shots—especially on game points and break points—keep her opponents at bay.
While Andreescu doesn’t lead the WTA in many return-of-serve statistics, she tends to inflict damage with her return on the important points. A clean return winner against Serena is one thing, but on match point to win the US Open? That’s another level.
Health is Andreescu’s primary concern. She’s been sidelined with a knee injury since the WTA Finals in November, and wasn’t healthy enough to play Indian Wells in March. Like Roger Federer and his twice-operated injured knee, Andreescu can only benefit from the extra time the COVID-19 pandemic has allowed her to take.
The key, though, is that Andreescu is still really young. Rafael Nadal’s knees weren’t supposed to hold up, but they did. Simona Halep, one of the most consistent performers in WTA history, has battled injuries her whole career. Before winning her first Grand Slam title, Kim Clijsters missed four majors due to injury. I certainly won’t be one to write off Andreescu after one injury-heavy year.
For many people, including Caroline Wozniacki and Darren Cahill, Andreescu resembles a young Clijsters. That’s no accident; Andreescu idolized the Belgian growing up. “I watched her because of her style of play,” **she said. “She was so different from the other players and she had a complete game.”
Another name that comes to mind is Svetlana Kuznetsova. Both players make use of great variety, use angles well, and can end the point with any shot. While Andreescu serves better than Kuznetsova, they share an intimidating raw-athleticism.
Monday, July 27: Sofia Kenin | Monday, July 27: Elena Rybakina | Monday, July 27: Alex de Minaur, Dayana Yastremska, Casper Ruud | Tuesday, July 28: Stefanos Tsitsipas | Tuesday, July 28: Thiago Seyboth Wild | Wednesday, July 29: Amanda Anisimova | Wednesday, July 29: Brandon Nakashima | Thursday, July 30: Coco Gauff | Thursday, July 30: Caty McNally | Thursday, July 30: Jannik Sinner, Iga Swiatek | Friday, July 31: Felix Auger-Aliassime | Friday, July 31: Carlos Alcaraz | Saturday, August 1: Denis Shapovalov | Saturday, August 1: J.J. Wolf | Sunday, August 2: Bianca Andreescu | Sunday, August 2: Leylah Fernandez | Sunday, August 2: Marketa Vondrousova, Miomir Kecmanovic