TORONTO – Bianca Andreescu had just run down a shot on the baseline, and then she ran down another, chased down a drop shot, then stretched out to find the return and drop it in to take a point off Timea Babos on the Hungarian’s serve.
And at the end of that point – the moment of the match in Andreescu’s first round of play at the Rogers Cup – the young Canadian walked back to the baseline and she pumped her arms and yelled at the crowd to get them pumped up. Twice.
If there was any doubt there were nerves here on home turf for the kid from nearby Thornhill, Ont., who turned 17 just two months ago, those went out the window pretty quickly.
Andreescu, who upset the world No. 13 just a week ago, looked awfully comfortable out there.
Yes, Andreescu lost her opening-round match here in straight sets, 6-4, 6-1, to Babos, the world No. 55 from Hungary on centre court Tuesday night, but the match also signalled that Andreescu is a name you ought to remember, because it was the type of performance that indicates the future of Canadian tennis is in good hands.
It wasn’t Andreescu’s night, but she put up a good fight.
“I love to try to put on a show for the crowd,” Andreescu said shortly after the loss, referring to that long point. “That was a crazy point. I don’t even know how I won that, but I fought to the end and I got it.”
Ranked 144th in the world, Andreescu was the last Canadian woman standing in the singles draw here (by virtue of her Tuesday night start), after Francoise Abanda lost in straight sets on Monday night, and Genie Bouchard lost in straight sets Tuesday afternoon.
Andreescu didn’t earn a point in the first game, on Babos’ serve, but then settled in and hit a cross-court forehand winner on her first service point, and pumped her fist.
Despite the fact she doesn’t have a lot of experience on the WTA – Tuesday’s was her 62nd match on tour – she tried to treat this match like any other.
“I stick to my routines. Nothing special,” she said. “I focus before my match. I think I was very well prepared. I had tactics how to play her but everyone has their days and today was her day, so congrats to her.”
Andreescu is coming off her first-ever appearance in a WTA quarter-final at the Citi Open in Washington last week, where she upset world No. 13 Kristina Mladenovic. Here, her confidence showed. At deuce on her serve, she charged the net. When she fired an ace to make it 2-2, she pumped her fist and yelled “yes!”
Andreescu was right in this one until late in the first, when she broke Babos to get to 4-5, but was then broken herself to end the set.
She lost her serve early in the second, and didn’t win a game until she was down 5-0. And despite the fact she comes into this match as the underdog, as the teenaged wild card, you could see that Andreescu expects a lot of herself, the way she slapped her thigh after going down 0-4 in the second set, the way she talked to herself after missed shots.
The last point of the game, Andreescu, who’s known for her aggressive play from the baseline, sent a hard forehand into the net.
The crowd cheered as the last Canadian woman in the singles draw here walked off the court. Before exiting completely, she stopped for a few selfies and signed some giant tennis balls.
She’ll be doing plenty more of that in the years to come. She’ll also be working to improve for her next opponent.
“Every match I play I try to learn from it, and I try to improve on certain things,” Andreescu said.
She may be 17, but she’s not a wide-eyed kid in awe of the big stage at home. She’s a teenager who’s not pleased with the outcome, and not happy with the way she served.
“I’m probably going to go tomorrow and hit, like, many buckets of serves,” Andreescu said.