Bianca Andreescu launched her 2023 season in a dramatic style at the Adelaide International 1, here on Sunday. In a blockbuster meeting between two former Grand Slam champions, Andreescu recovered from a 0-6 2-5 deficit to beat Garbine Muguruza in three hard-fought sets.
The 22-year-old from Canada defeated the World No.55 Spanish opponent 0-6, 7-6 (3), 6-1 in the Round of 32 match.
“I’m super happy I pulled that out," beamed Andreescu, the 2019 US Open champion. “I have no idea how."
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Victory certainly seemed unlikely when the world No.46 from Canada trailed by a set after just 24 minutes on court in her season opener.
Muguruza is a former world No.1, who lifted major trophies at 2016 Roland Garros and 2017 Wimbledon. The Spaniard, now ranked world No.55, reminded of those heights as she fired 10 winners and recorded only three unforced errors in an efficient first set.
But as errors crept in for Muguruza, Andreescu found some rhythm. A break of serve early in the second set signalled a comeback, and while the Spaniard wrested momentum back and took a 5-3 lead, the hard-hitting Canadian began to compete with more freedom.
Serving for the match, Muguruza was two points from victory when Andreescu completed a stunning turnaround, extending the set to a tiebreak that she was able to seize.
“In the second set I really had to change my game plan. I felt that at the beginning of the second set it was a bit wishy washy, but then I just told myself ‘go for it - whatever happens, happens’ … she was on a roll and that’s what I did," Andreescu related.
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“I started putting more returns in the court, more serves in the court and I also got lucky a few times, so I’m very grateful for that."
With scores levelled, Andreescu took control in the third set, allowing Muguruza just one more game as she completed her memorable win in two hours and 14 minutes.
She finished the match with 28 winners against 23 unforced errors, compared to 37 winners and 39 errors from Muguruza.
It was the perfect start to a new season for Andreescu, who is scheduled to face the winner of the first-round match between Veronika Kudermetova and Amanda Anisimova.
Absent from Australian events last summer due to injury, the 22-year-old is feeling positive after her emphatic start to the year.
“I just want to stay healthy this year. I want to be able to play a full year on tour," said Andreescu, when asked to share her goals for 2023.
“I haven’t (done that) yet because of injuries and COVID and whatnot, so honestly that’s my number one (goal) and winning another Grand Slam for sure."
Kai Kanepi continued her tradition of starting the season strong in Australia, with a hard-fought win over Aliaksandra Sasnovichh.
The 37-year-old from Estonia required just over two hours to record her 4-6 6-1 6-4 victory over Sasnovich, who at world No.30 is ranked two places higher.
Kanepi, who claimed the Brisbane International title in 2012 and was a quarter-finalist at Australian Open 2022, will meet the winner between Ekaterina Alexandrova and Marketa Vondrousova in the second round.
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