Canadian tennis star Bianca Andreescu was victorious in her return to action after a long layoff.
The 21-year-old from Mississauga, Ont., overcame some nervy moments in the first set en route to a 7-6 (5), 6-3 win over Germany’s Jule Niemeier on Tuesday in first-round action at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix.
Andreescu trailed 5-3 in the first set before rallying to win, then went up a break early in the second set en route to the victory.
The Canadian faced six break points, saving five of them. She converted three of her four break-point chances.
Andreescu, ranked 121st in the world due to a months-long absence, was given a wild-card berth into the tournament. She will next face third seed Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus.
Tuesday’s match was the first of the 2022 season for Andreescu, who announced in December that she was stepping away from tennis to recover physically and mentally from a “challenging” two years.
Andreescu posted on Twitter that she was affected by “multiple weeks in isolation quarantining” after contracting COVID-19, and by her grandmother’s stay for several weeks in a hospital’s intensive care unit because of the coronavirus.
Her last match before Tuesday was a second-round loss to Anett Kontaveit at Indian Wells on Oct. 21.
“A lot of days, I did not feel like myself, especially while I was training and/or playing matches. I felt like I was carrying the world on my shoulders,” Andreescu said. “I could not detach myself from everything that was going on off the court; was feeling the collective sadness and turmoil around and it took its toll on me.”
Andreescu was 19 when she capped a breakthrough season by upsetting her idol, Serena Williams, in the 2019 U.S. Open final. That win came a couple of weeks after she won the Rogers Cup final in Toronto when Williams retired early in the final.
The strength of those wins propelled Andreescu to a career-best No. 4 in the WTA rankings.