Friday (May 13; 1.30pm, UK time) in Rome, Bianca Andreescu looks to continue her successful return to the court. She’ll have her work cut out for her, as the Italian Open’s top seed, Iga Świątek, awaits her in the quarterfinal.
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A major knee injury, the COVID pandemic and a six-month hiatus from the sport to focus on her mental health cost Canada’s Bianca Andreescu most of the past two-and-a-half years on the tennis court. However, Andreescu recently made her return during the tour’s clay-court season. She returned to the court in April, at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart, where she fell in the second round to the tournament’s third-seeded player, Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus.
Immediately afterward, the 21-year-old 2019 U.S. Open winner (who beat Serena Williams in the final) was off to Madrid, where she knocked off the tournament’s #6 seed, American Danielle Collins, before falling the round of 16 to another American, 12-seeded Jessica Pegula.
It’s been nine days since that defeat. In that time, Andreescu traveled to Rome for the Italian Open. On May 10, she advanced past the #10 seed Emma Raducanu, who was forced to retire mid-match due to injury (Andreescu was leading 6-2, 2-1). The next day, she pulled out a straight-set win (6-3, 7-6) over Spain’s Nuria Parrizas Diaz, before knocking off Croatia’s Petra Martić, 6-4, 6-4.
Awaiting the onetime #4 player in the world in the quarterfinal round is massive challenge in the form of Polish star and current world #1, Iga Świątek. The soon-to-be-21-year-old Świątek is in an imperious run of form, having won the last four tournaments in which she’s played (Qatar, Indian Wells, Miami and Stuttgart), knocking off ten seeded opponents, five of whom were seeded in the top-ten, along the way.
The pair square off for the first in their careers on Friday the 13th in Rome. Andreescu has steadily improved since her return, and will probably be competitive, point to point. However…
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Given Świątek’s incredible form in recent months (she’s lost five set in 23 tournament matches since February 22), and with this the final tune up prior to the French Open at Roland Garros, this is likely a bridge too far. Again, look for Bianca to battle, but for Iga to emerge victorious in straight sets.