Bianca Andreescu came into Wimbledon hoping to recapture some of the magic that propelled her to victory at the 2019 U.S. Open. But her performance in the first round on Wednesday showed she still has a long way to go.
Andreescu lost 2-6 1-6 to Alize Cornet of France, and while the fifth-seeded Canadian showed flashes of brilliance, her mistakes proved costly.
Cornet broke Andreescu twice in the first set and survived two break points to take a 6-2 lead. She kept up the momentum in the second set with a quick break in the first game, followed by another in the third.
The Canadian slipped a couple of times and appeared rattled at one point in the second set after losing her footing. But there was little she could do to stop the French onslaught and Cornet ended the match with a stunning lob that Andresscu could only watch.
Andreescu finished with more winners than Cornet – 17 to 11 – but she had nearly five times as many unforced errors, 34 to 7.
“At one point, she just, I don’t know, she switched gears and she was on another level, and I obviously kind of stayed at the level I started the match,” Andreescu said afterward. “I don’t know. I felt like I obviously could have raised my level a bit more but during the match, I felt like I couldn’t.”
This was the second meeting this month between Andreescu, 21, and Cornet, 31, who is ranked 58th in the world. The Frenchwoman beat Andreescu 7-6 (2), 7-5 in the second round at the Berlin Grass Court Championships on June 16.
The weather has been an ongoing issue since the tournament began on Monday, and officials said the first two days have seen the wettest conditions in 10 years. On Tuesday, Serena Williams had to retire from her match after she injured her right leg in a slip on centre court. Williams’s stumble came just after France’s Adrian Mannarino slid on the same court and was forced to abandon his match against Roger Federer.
Andreescu hasn’t played much at Wimbledon and Wednesday was only her second match in the main draw. But she also found the courts damp and she slid at least six times during the match. “The courts are super slippery,” she said. “I’ve only played here once before, but they weren’t like this at all. I spoke to a couple of other players and they said it’s not that normal. But this is something we can’t really control.”
With Wimbledon now behind her, Andreescu plans to focus on the Tokyo Olympics and the search for a new coach. Earlier this month, she split with her longtime trainer Sylvain Bruneau who helped her win the U.S. Open. On Wednesday, she said she missed having someone to talk to about her game and the structure a coach provides. “I was getting some advice here and there,” she said. “I’m definitely going to have a good talk with my team tonight to figure a lot of stuff out.”
Andreescu has spoken openly about her struggles since her breakout year in 2019, when she started the season ranked outside the top 150 and finished by beating Serena Williams in New York and climbing as high as No. 4. Since then, she’s been plagued by injuries and bad luck.
She missed most of the 2020 season because of a knee injury and the pandemic. She returned this year and promptly ran into problems with two positive COVID-19 tests – one for her coach and one for her – which forced her to miss a couple of major tournaments.
She made it to the final of the Miami Open in April against world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty but had to retire after twisting her ankle in the second set. Then came an abdomen tear at a tournament in Strasbourg, a first round exit at the French Open, the loss to Cornet in Berlin and a second-round exit at a Wimbledon tune up event in Eastbourne, England.
“I just have to kind of put the pieces together,” she said Wednesday. “It hasn’t really been like that the past couple of tournaments, but I’m going to get there, and I’m super excited for that.”
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