Let us briefly check in on Bianca Andreescu, now that she is back on a tennis court in Beijing for the China Open, the fourth and final Premier Mandatory event of the tennis season on the WTA Tour.
Andreescu began her campaign with another three-set win (will she lose a three-setter in the next 12 months?), this time over Aliaksandra Sasnovich.
Everyone in women’s tennis is interested in seeing if Andreescu can produce a big result and lift a prestigious trophy away from North America. Plenty of drama is attached to that particular quest.
Yet, the intrigue of Andreescu’s career right now is bigger than winning on a different continent. The macro-level question people in the sport are asking is this: “Can Andreescu take control of the women’s tour?”
Congratulations, Bianca! 🙌
— Tennis Canada (@TennisCanada) September 30, 2019
The question is hardly an absurd one.
Andreescu still hasn’t lost a full-length match (one in which she didn’t retire due to health limitations) since March 1. She has lost only four matches this year. She is indisputably the best hardcourt player in the world right now. Elite players have gained an opportunity to defeat her, and she brushed them all aside over the past several months.
You can certainly argue that Andreescu is going to struggle at some point in the near future.
You can certainly make the claim that Andreescu isn’t going to keep winning three-setters forever. (It merely SEEMS that she is incapable of losing three-setters right now.)
To a certain unavoidable extent, Andreescu can’t possibly maintain this level of success… but remember: THIS level of success is extremely elevated. THIS level of success — this scale of achievement — belongs to a dominant World No. 1 player.
Andreescu isn’t yet No. 1, but name me a better WTA player since the start of August. You can’t.
When one asks if Andreescu can take over the WTA Tour, one isn’t asking — or at least, I don’t think it is reasonable to assume — that Bianca must dominate at the level she has displayed in 2019.
If Andreescu is merely 75 to 80 percent as dominant in 2020 as she has been since her Indian Wells title, that will represent a consolidation of power and an affirmation of this meteoric rise.
Bianca Andreescu returns to action tomorrow.
Thanks to @BenLewisSN590 for helping preview the US Open champ’s possible fall schedule and what 2020 could hold.
— Sandra Prusina (@sprusina) September 28, 2019
Over at Tennis With An Accent, I wrote about Simona Halep’s early loss in Beijing to Ekaterina Alexandrova. Halep did injure herself last week, and she is not 100-percent fit, so the loss isn’t a verdict on the quality of Halep’s tennis.
Nevertheless, I wrote that Halep plainly hasn’t done well after winning Wimbledon. This puts Halep in the same boat as Roland Garros champion Ashleigh Barty and Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka. All three women have not played especially strong tennis in the months following their 2019 major titles.
When I ask if Bianca Andreescu can take over the WTA Tour, I am not asking if she can dominate at the level demonstrated since March — with a major championship, a Premier Mandatory title (Indian Wells), and a Premier 5 trophy (Toronto). I am merely asking if she can regularly play strong tennis. I am asking if the caliber of her performances remains high.
Life is a constant search for self-improvement, even when things are going well.
That is a theme for both women's tennis in general and for the first 3 major champions of 2019.
— Tennis Accent (@accent_tennis) September 30, 2019
Osaka, Barty and Halep all noticeably dropped off after their respective major titles this year.
If Andreescu doesn’t regress to a significant degree, that will be revealing… and it will be her chance to step through the portal and become the player to beat on the WTA Tour in 2020.
Keep that in mind as you watch Andreescu this week in Beijing… and beyond.
Matt Zemek has written about tennis professionally since 2014 for multiple outlets. He is currently the editor of tennisaccent.com and the co-manager of Tennis With An Accent with Saqib Ali. Tennis With An Accent blends Saqib Ali's podcasts with written coverage of professional tennis. The TWAA Podcast hosted Darren Cahill earlier this year. The podcast is distributed by Red Circle and is available on Stitcher, Google Podcasts, and Apple Podcasts. See Matt's pinned tweet on his Twitter page for links to the TWAA Podcast. Matt is based in Phoenix and thinks the Raptors winning the NBA title was awesome. Saqib will be covering Montreal for Tennis With An Accent.