Bianca Andreescu celebrated her Rogers Cup title on Sunday with a quiet night at home in Thornhill, Ont., alongside her parents and some Japanese takeout food.
That was after it took the 19-year-old four hours to leave York University’s Aviva Centre grounds after a final that made her the first Canadian female champion in 50 years.
It had been an emotionally draining match, despite it only lasting 20 minutes before Serena Williams retired with a back injury. Andreescu had countless stops to make after her big victory, throughout the back hallways of the tennis centre where she spent many hours as a kid building her game.
After her tearful on-court exchange with Williams, and the trophy presentation, Andreescu did a long list of interviews. She visited a room full of Rogers Cup ball kids, who erupted into a frenzied chant for her that shook the downstairs hallways of Centre Court stadium. She then went to unveil her new name-strip on the Rogers Cup champions wall before attending a reception for the tournament volunteers and whooping them up with a speech.
After six matches in Toronto in six days – 14½ sets in all – Andreescu and her coach, Sylvain Bruneau, had to then sit down to discuss her next move. She was due to play her opening-round match at the Cincinnati Masters on Monday. It was the same decision they faced after she played several gruelling matches en route to her first WTA title, at Indian Wells in March. Back then, she chose to roll right into the next tournament. She then wound up missing nine weeks to rehab an injured shoulder.
“I’ve had a tough week playing so many three-setters, and I wanted to listen to my body and not make the same mistake I made at Indian Wells,” Andreescu told The Globe and Mail on Monday, explaining her decision to pull out of Cincinnati. “I know now that I need to schedule my tournaments a little better. I’m learning as I go.”
Andreescu jumped up to No. 14 in Monday’s newest WTA Tour world rankings, and to No. 8 in the Race to Shenzhen rankings, which will determine the eight players who get to compete in the year-end WTA Finals.
She said she will stay in Toronto and take two or three days off tennis – including some celebrations with her friends. Then she’s scheduled to play an exhibition match at the Aurora Games in Albany, N.Y., before tuning up for the next Grand Slam.
“The U.S Open is right around the corner,” she said. “New York is one of my favourite cities and I can’t wait get back there. I think I have a great shot of doing really, really well there.”
The tennis world will be hoping to see Andreescu and Williams face off again – to see them finish what they started in the too-short Rogers Cup final.
Williams retired after just four games, making Andreescu the champ by default. She then turned an awkward moment into a heartwarming one, walking right over to the teary, disheartened 37-year-old champion of 23 Grand Slams and took her hands, hugged her and gushed over how much she admired her. She told her she could relate to how it feels to make that agonizing call to end a match.
“I’m a pretty outgoing person and I’m not shy at all, and I knew what to say to her because I truly felt for her so much after what I’ve experienced with injuries in my short career. I told her that she’s a beast as she’s gonna bounce back,” Andreescu said. “Just having that little conversation with her meant so much to me. I got her to crack a smile, so that made me feel really good.”
Andreescu said the shoulder held up very well throughout the Rogers Cup, and she’s not worried about the groin that nagged her during the tournament. For at least a few more nights, she will wake up in her own bed in Thornhill.
“I’ve never found another bed like that anywhere. I’ve slept amazing every night,” she said. “What a week it’s been. There’s no place like home.”