Canadian tennis star Bianca Andreescu, who has rocketed up the WTA Tour rankings after a breakout start to the season, has resumed on-court activity after a five-week break to rest a shoulder injury.
Coach Sylvain Bruneau said Andreescu hit balls this week for the first time since she was forced to retire from her fourth-round match at the Miami Open on March 25. They plan to travel to Mallorca, Spain over the coming days to begin training at the Rafa Nadal Academy in preparation for the French Open.
"It’s been a long break so we need to go slowly and surely and smartly about it, which is what he intend to do," Bruneau said from Montreal. "Then hopefully we’ll build over the next couple weeks and get her ready to play and perform in Paris."
Andreescu will not play the upcoming Premier Mandatory tournament in Madrid and is a longshot to play the May 13-19 Premier 5 event in Rome, Bruneau said.
It’s possible she could return at one of the warmup events the week before Roland Garros — either Nurnberg or Strasbourg — depending on how training goes.
"We’ll see. I don’t think we can really put out objectives now with the long (time) without training and being away from the court," Bruneau said. "I think we’re going to just go into the clay-court season and hope that she stays healthy.
"I think it would be a little premature after such a long break to have really high expectations. We’ll just go day by day."
Andreescu, an 18-year-old native of Mississauga, Ont., posted several upset victories earlier this year and earned her first career Premier Mandatory title in March at the BNP Paribas Open.
She played well in Miami despite the short turnaround from Indian Wells, but had to stop due to a subscapularis muscle tear in the rotator cuff of her right shoulder.
"She had some PRP (platelet-rich plasma therapy), she had some treatment and she needed to rest it," Bruneau said.
Andreescu hit balls again on Tuesday in Toronto — "very lightly," Bruneau said — for the first time since the Florida tournament.
"It was all good, but it was short and sweet," he said.
Ranked No. 194 at the time, Andreescu fell in the third round of French Open qualifying last year. She’s currently ranked 23rd and will be seeded at the clay-court Grand Slam.
"It suits her game really, really well," Bruneau said of the surface. "She’s able to do the spins, the angles and variations. So I think she’s going to be very effective."
Andreescu has also battled other injuries over the last year. Tightness in her left hip has led to occasional pain in her groin and back at times.
"It’s a very demanding sport and she’s played a lot," Bruneau said. "We’re going to sit and re-evaluate whether there’s anything we can do differently. But I look around and there’s a lot of players who have (injury) hiccups because it’s a long season and it’s very demanding. On such a young body, it’s not easy."
Andreescu has posted a 31-4 record on the WTA Tour this season and earned US$1.58 million.