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Fast-rising Andreescu inspired by past, present and future of tennis

Wednesday, March 6, 2019 - Bianca Andreescu plays Irina-Camelia Begu in the 2nd round of qualifying during the BNP Paribas Open in at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California. (Michael Cummo/BNP Paribas Open)

by Jeff Donaldson

Not every player gets to play alongside their idols.

Former World No. 1 Angelique Kerber has cited Steffi Graf as her inspiration growing up, but missed playing with the 22-time Grand Sam champion by a full generation. Monica Seles played an enormous role in molding the hard-hitting bruiser style of the modern game of women’s tennis, but predates nearly the entire current WTA cohort.

For 18-year-old Bianca Andreescu, who in just a matter of months has boosted her ranking nearly 100 places to just outside the WTA’s Top 50, playing alongside an idol will be a luxury she’ll (hopefully) get to experience for quite a few years to come.

“She’s an amazing player. She’s accomplished so much in her career,” said Andreescu about none other than reigning Roland Garros champ and BNP Paribas Open 2015 champion Simona Halep, with whom the 18-year-old shares Romanian heritage as well as a fondness. While proudly representing Canada, the daughter of Romanian immigrants acknowledges the special sensation she felt when watching – and tweeting – about Halep winning her maiden Grand Slam.

“When [Halep] won the French Open that was very emotional, especially for Romania because I think we’re a very passionate people,” admitted Andreescu, who has looked up to the Romanian superstar since her junior days. “I know her as a person too – not very well but I’ve spoken to her a lot of times and she’s very down to earth and a very kind soul, so I really respect that.”

Compatriots and fellow fast-rising young guns Félix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov, part of the present crop of exciting #NextGenATP players, have also served as impetus for her recent success as much as she has to theirs.

“I definitely feel it,” said the World No. 60, just two spots behind where Montreal’s Auger-Aliassime sits in the ATP Rankings. “The momentum of everyone’s success is pushing all the other Canadians to do better. It’s very good motivation and it’s very good for Canadian tennis.”

Motivation isn’t hard to come by for a player with the career ambitions of Andreescu, whose combination of hunger to achieve those ambitions and her raw talent as a tennis player makes her one to watch for fans and, as she hopes, the next generation of professional tennis players.

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“That’s one of my goals, to be an inspiration for others,” remarked Andreescu, earnestly. “I’ve actually received a lot of messages since Auckland saying ‘I’ve picked up a tennis racquet because of you,’ which is incredible. It gives me a purpose to play this sport—not just that, obviously I love the sport—but that’s just bonus.

“But yeah, I do see myself winning a Grand Slam, maybe even more and making a name for myself.

“Making history.”

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