Beaten Bianca to 'learn from mistakes'

 - Alex Sharp

Canadian sixth seed departs with held held high despite falling short in titanic three-hour-plus first-round tussle

Bianca Andreescu, Roland Garros 2021, first round© Julien Crosnier/FFT

Bianca Andreescu deserves a lucky break. The 2019 US Open champion had endured injury-marred seasons only to have to pull out of Madrid and Rome after testing positive for Covid-19 leading in to Paris.

Despite a reduced clay-court campaign, the Canadian gave it her all in only her second Roland-Garros only to come up short 7-6(1), 6-7(2), 9-7 in an enthralling defeat to world No.85 Tamara Zidansek on Monday.

Andreescu was understandably hurting, but was adamant she would keep learning and evolving in these challenging times.

“My hunger for the game, my hunger to compete, that's really all it is. I'm super passionate about this sport and I want to continue to do great things and be an inspiration,” declared the world No.7 after the three-hour, 20-minute battle.

“During these tough moments, like I want to show a good example to a lot of people. It sucks right now for me and I can just right now learn from it, because that's what life's all about, you learn from your mistakes.

“I just want to keep my head up, feel what I feel right now. I might cry a lot tonight, but tomorrow is a new day.”

The Canadian served for the match at 5-4 in the second set and also saw two break points vanish at 7-7 in the decider, but Andreescu was gracious in defeat as she praised the Slovenian’s performance.

“From my part, I didn't feel like I played good tennis today. But at the same time, she played really, really well,” the No.6 seed said.

“She threw me off a lot with her heavy, spinny shots and her variety. But at least thinking on the positive side I'm healthy, and I was able to fight as hard as I could.”

A shoulder injury prevented Andreescu taking to court for her second-round encounter at Roland-Garros 2019, while a recurring knee injury forced her to skip the 2020 edition. The 20-year-old's two matches last week in Strasbourg were the only matches she had played on the surface since her opening round in Paris two years ago.

The lack of match practice on the red dirt was not on Andreescu’s mind, however, expectations from the major champion were still high.

Bianca Andreescu, Roland Garros 2021, first round© Julien Crosnier/FFT

“I don't know what it was really. Today just wasn't my day. I think I prepared super, super well for this tournament. That's why to me it's very disappointing, because I thought I could go far. I try not to have a lot of expectations, but that comes naturally for anyone,” insisted the world No.7.

“As a human being, that's just how we see things and I just wanted to take it match after match, point after point, game after game.

"Hopefully the hard work that I did put in today and over the past couple of weeks will really show hopefully for the grass, for the hard court season, all of that.”

Andreescu said she pulled up well following the three-hour marathon, but was left frustrated by her mental fatigue on court.

“Physically I felt good. I started to get a little bit tired at one point, but I think it mainly came from the mental side of things, because today I didn't feel like I could control my emotions as well as I normally do,” added the Canadian.

“I don't know if it's because I didn't play a lot of matches on clay. I played really well in Strasbourg, so to me it's super surprising.”

Moving on swiftly, Andreescu is going to hit the lawns to prepare for Wimbledon.

I'm just going to practice a lot on grass now. I don't know where I'm going to go. Haven't really talked about that with my team yet, but I am signed up for Berlin and Eastbourne, so hopefully I can play both of them healthy and all, and then be ready for Wimby.”