Bianca Andreescu doesn't feel like the same person who hoisted a trophy in front of hometown fans nearly two years ago — or the same tennis player.
The 21-year-old from Mississauga, Ont., is trying to put her 2019 performance behind her as she prepares to defend her National Bank Open title in Montreal next week.
“It’s a whole other ball game. But on the court, I feel like I’m the same person because I am fearless, I feel confident," Andreescu told reporters on a video call Saturday.
She admitted, though, that her confidence has been "up and down" in recent months as she struggled with her mental health, dealt with injuries and a positive COVID-19 test, and parted ways with her longtime coach Sylvain Bruneau.
Andreescu also hasn't played much over the past year, something that she said has "really sucked."
“But now I have a new mindset, I’m feeling refreshed, I’ve been training really hard," she said. "I’m feeling good.”
Andreescu comes into the National Bank Open as the No. 2 seed. She has a first-round bye and could face fellow Canadian Leylah Annie Fernandez when the second round begins on Tuesday.
The quarterfinals for both the men's and women's tournaments are scheduled for Friday, with the semis set to go Saturday, Aug. 14 and the finals on Aug. 15.
There's a strong Canadian contingent at this year's event.
At the men's event in Toronto, Denis Shapovalov comes in as the No. 5 seed while Montreal's Felix Auger-Aliassime is No. 9. Both have first-round byes.
Vasek Pospisil of Vancouver, the No. 53 seed, will face a qualifier in first-round action.
The tournament, formerly known as the Rogers Cup, was not held in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the young Canadians are looking forward to competing on home soil.
“I’m just excited to be back and, honestly, just playing in front of a Canadian crowd again, in front of my fans," Shapovalov said. "It’s been awhile since I’ve been able to see them and they’ve been able to see me. So it’s going to be a lot of fun to be out there.”
Shapovalov said he's feeling confident heading into the National Bank Open, especially after his performance at Wimbledon last month. The 22-year-old from Richmond Hill, Ont., impressed many at the grass-court Grand Slam before falling to world No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the semifinals.
“The momentum is great from Wimbledon and I just feel like the last couple of months, my game level has improved a couple more steps up," he said. "I feel like I’m able to compete with anyone and I feel like I’m becoming a really big threat. So it’s all positive things for me.”
Both Shapovalov and Andreescu skipped this month's Tokyo Olympics, opting to instead focus on their health and prepare for the hard-court season.
Andreescu has been keeping close tabs on the performance of at least one Canadian athlete, though — her good friend Penny Oleksiak.
Oleksiak, 21, became the most-decorated Olympian in Canadian history last week when she captured her seventh medal, a bronze in the women's 4x100 medley relay.
Andreescu said she was "in tears" watching at home.
“We’ve been talking about playing the Olympics together and I didn’t go, but just seeing her have that moment, just embracing it is just so amazing. I wish her all the best," she said. "She just inspires me as well. I feel even more motivated to do better.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 7, 2021.
Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press