The biggest obstacle to US Open champion Bianca Andreescu dominating the WTA Tour in 2020 could be her injury record, as her quality is unquestionable.
Bianca Andreescu produced a breakthrough on the WTA Tour in 2019 that will take some beating.
The Canadian entered the year as an unheralded youngster who had battled injuries in her usually unsuccessful bids to progress through qualifying rounds and reach the biggest tournaments.
But after ending 2018 ranked 178, Andreescu finishes 2019 inside the top five as the US Open champion who defeated Serena Williams in the final.
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So good were her results that it seems the biggest obstacle to her dominating the women’s game in the coming years is her injury record, rather than opposition players.
Andreescu had a match record of 48-7 over the course of the season. Her astonishing progress came despite missing large stretches of time due to further injuries and battling through other stages of the campaign while not being fully fit.
This year started impressively with a run to the final of the ASB Classic in Auckland, where she narrowly lost to Julia Goerges having won the first set.
But it was at the Indian Wells Open where she announced herself to the world. A wildcard entry, she went all the way to win the Premier Mandatory tournament.
Having negotiated her way through the first three rounds comfortably, Andreescu reeled off four wins against top-20 players in Wang Qiang, Garbine Muguruza, Elina Svitolina and Angelique Kerber.
A shoulder injury struck at the Miami Open, though, ruling her out for four months of action, aside from a French Open appearance where she attempted to play but had to withdraw through the same injury after one match. It ended her Wimbledon hopes too.
Just as remarkable as her win at Indian Wells, her first tournament back from that lengthy absence saw her win another huge event, the Rogers Cup, on home soil.
Andreescu had wins over the likes of Kiki Bertens, Karolina Pliskova and Sofia Kenin before a dream final against Serena, though the American had to withdraw early in the match with an injury of her own. They would, of course, soon meet again.
The US Open was Andreescu’s crowning achievement of the year, the teenager winning the major on her first appearance in the main draw.
The straight sets final win over Serena and a partisan crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium is one that will live long in the memory.
She had rarely been troubled in her six matches before and showed superb composure under pressure throughout the tournament and in the final, other than a brief hiccup in the second set against a charging Serena.
Injury struck once more towards the end of the year, though, a knee problem hindering her at the WTA Finals. Andreescu had to withdraw without completing the lucrative event in Shenzhen.
Her coach, Sylvain Bruneau, told the WTA this month that the injury struggles were also the toughest element for him deal with during 2019.
“Bianca had injuries, so that was tough,” he said.
“She lost matches, too, but for sure, the injuries this year, those setbacks were really difficult.
“So I would say that those were the days this year when I would go back to my hotel room or whatever and it was and I was not feeling as good.”
Andreescu is not holding back with her goals for 2020, with the world number one ranking and a further Grand Slam in her sights for the next 12 months.
A budding rivalry with two-time major winner Naomi Osaka could become the main theme of the WTA Tour in the coming seasons.
They recently played for the first time in the quarterfinal of the China Open, Osaka edging a thriller in a match ESPN rated as their best of the year on the WTA Tour.
It was a loss, on October 4, that ended Andreescu’s superb run of having not lost a completed match since March 2. An amazing winning streak was only halted by a player of the brilliance of Osaka, who was in inspired form on the day. That was what it took to stop her.
As of now, the Canadian is still rehabbing the knee injury ahead of the new WTA Tour season and is all too aware how she needs to find a way to stay on court more consistently.
Andreescu discussed the topic of her injuries when collecting the Lou Marsh Trophy awarded to Canada’s best athlete.
“It’s not easy because all I want to do is be on the tennis court but I have to deal with it the best way I can,” said Bianca Andreescu.
“I kind of know what to expect now. But my team and I are trying really hard to find the things that are contributing to my injuries so that I can have a longer career and play as many tournaments as I can so I can reach that number one spot.”
Bianca Andreescu has this month been named WTA Newcomer of the Year and was also nominated for the WTA Player of the Year gong which was ultimately won by Ash Barty.
She has the game to dominate and her achievements are sensational based on how much time she has missed not just this season but in her developmental years before reaching the top level of the tennis circuit.
If Bianca Andreescu can find some sort of solution to her fitness woes and get some much needed luck in her bid to stay injury free, the rest of the WTA Tour had better watch out in 2020 and beyond.