Bianca Andreescu eyes Beijing for return after winning U.S. Open

Sylvain Bruneau, coach of Canadian tennis star Bianca Andreescu, responds to a question during a news conference in Montreal on Tuesday, September 10, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

MONTREAL - Bianca Andreescu's coach says his star player is heading right back to work after her historic win in the U.S. Open.

After a few days off to celebrate, the 19-year-old from Mississauga, Ont. will resume training next week with the goal of playing one tournament during the WTA Tour's Asian swing — with the Beijing Open, Sept. 28-Oct. 6, as the target, her coach said Tuesday.

Sylvain Bruneau told reporters in Montreal that Andreescu has made it clear that she has no intention of stopping after her win over Serena Williams in New York.

"This is the start of what she says she wants to be able to accomplish, so if it's only the start (that means) you're nowhere close to where you want to go or where you want to be, you're just going in the right direction," he said.

"If this is your mentality, then back to work."

Andreescu's dream season has sent her skyrocketing in the rankings, from outside the top 150 at the end of last year to cracking the top five on Monday.

Bruneau said he didn't anticipate any major changes to Andreescu's routine or her team going forward.

But some changes are inevitable, he acknowledged. Rather than coming in an underdog, she'll be a "target" of other players on the tour, with a bigger fan reaction to match.

There's also the money, the endorsements, the attention, the pressure — all things that can be difficult for a 19-year-old to manage.

Bruneau acknowledged the possibility for distraction, but said Andreescu's own drive, as well as her family, were key to keeping her grounded.

"She needs to understand it's OK to celebrate for a few days and take it in, I think she needs to and it's the right thing to do, but then you have to move on and go about business the same way you've been doing from the beginning," he said.

On Saturday, Andreescu stunned the crowd in New York by beating Williams 6-3, 7-5 to become the first Canadian player to win a Grand Slam singles title.

The speed of her success has surprised even Bruneau, who has coached Andreescu full-time since 2018. But he said her confidence began to build with some successes in smaller tournaments early in the season, and "snowballed" throughout the season.

"I tried to get her to believe there was no limit to what she could do, and I think at one point she started to believe that," he said.

That confidence was crucial to beating the legendary Williams, a player who has been winning major titles since before Andreescu was born.

On Tuesday, Bruneau recalled how Andreescu's self-assurance was put to the test backstage about half an hour before the match was about to start, when Williams entered and began warming up in the same spot Andreescu had favoured all tournament.

While some members of Andreescu's team wanted to ask her if she wanted to move, Bruneau was adamant that she stick to her spot, and the two warmed up side-by-side.

"We spent a lot of time making sure she was not going to be intimidated, so we're not going to start right before the match to give her the spot for warmup," he said. In the end, he believes it made a difference.

"Serena, there's an aura around her," Bruneau said. "Honestly, she's a legend. But you cannot back off."

While the team had originally planned an earlier return to play, Bruneau said Andreescu's schedule was changed to give her more time to recover and "come down" from her U.S. Open high.

She will meet the media in Toronto on Wednesday before beginning training for the Beijing Open, which is part of the sport's top level of events below Grand Slams like the U.S. Open. Beijing is one of four Premier Mandatory tournaments on schedule.

Bruneau says Andreescu also hopes to qualify for the season-ending WTA Finals, Oct. 27-Nov. 3 in Shenzhen, China.

Andreescu is fourth in the standings for the Finals. The top eight qualify for the event.

The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.