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Insider Podcast: How Bianca Andreescu still finds inspiration in Federer

Bianca Andreescu didn’t know what was in store for her when she sat down to record the WTA Insider Podcast at the Libema Open. Playing in just her second tournament of the season, the 2019 US Open champion had scrapped her way to a three-set win over Dutch wild card Eva Vedder in the first round.

Andreescu credited herself with staying cool as she found herself, somewhat inexplicably in a third set against a player ranked No.357. Her mind drifted to Roger Federer’s recent commencement speech at Dartmouth College.

“He just points out how he won 80 percent of his matches, but he only won like 54 percent of those points, which is so crazy to think,” Andreescu said on the WTA Insider Podcast. “Any match can go any way. Like, I think in my match against Kalinskaya in the second round at Roland Garros, I think I lost more points than I won.

“Never giving up is the main thing and I feel like I’m starting to get that back more and more, which is nice.”

In a few days, Andreescu would face down Naomi Osaka for the first time in five years and win. She went on to make her first Hologic WTA Tour final in two years, where she fell short in three tough sets to No.2 seed Liudmila Samsonova.

Reflecting on her incredible 2019 season, which saw her start from outside the Top 100 to win the US Open and two WTA 1000s at Indian Wells and Toronto, to finish at a career-high No.4, Andreescu got nostalgic.

“Everything basically changes when you win a big tournament,” Andreescu said. “The pressure is there, people know you, people want to beat you. And I know how that feels because I’ve been on the other side where I am playing top-level opponents and for some reason my level increases because I am playing a higher-ranked player.

“I’ve been using this phrase, ‘divine timing’. I’m trying to go with the flow, see what happens, not force too much, surrendering in a way. Yes, I want to win this match. There’s no doubt in my mind that every time I step on court that’s how it is. But I don’t want to be too attached about how it’s going to happen.”

“This grass season, and the clay that I played, is something to help me for the hard court season. So I don’t want to put too much pressure.”

The topic du jour was Andreescu’s mindset as she comes off her nine-month break from competition. Ever talented in both her tactical mindset and competitive fire, Andreescu’s still-young career has been hampered by a series of injuries. Her most recent layoff was triggered by a stress fracture in her back.

This time she returns with more patience and a deeper perspective on her career.

“Every break that I have, I gained different tools and different perspectives that really help me overcome certain things,” Andreescu said on the WTA Insider Podcast.

“For now, I feel like I’m managing my emotions very well. That’s one of the main things that come out and can disrupt me, but at the same time, it’s like a superpower. But also it’s — I don’t want to say weakness, I don’t like that word — but you get what I’m saying.”

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Andreescu explained the important distinction between trying to control her emotions versus learning to manage them.

“We’re human and at the end of the day, we’re here on this planet to experience emotions. We’re not going to get away from that. The beautiful thing about life is experiencing every emotion possible because there’s lightness and there’s darkness. You’re not going to experience the light in such an incredible magnitude if you don’t experience the darkness. That’s why so many people have to hit rock bottom, in order to awaken or appreciate the good times, appreciate your health, too.

“But yeah, it is about managing. When you do feel anger or dissatisfaction, you don’t want to tighten up and just say, ‘Go away.’ You want to let it go, feel that emotion, but then switch back and say, look, it’s just a point or just a game.”

Andreescu uses a mantra to keep herself in the moment during matches.

“I have this phrase in my head,” Andreescu said, “‘I’m relaxed, I’m focused, stay in the present’ and that just brings me back in the present moment.

“Sometimes. Most of the time!”

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