Bianca Andreescu actually lost a full-length tennis match last Friday in Beijing, to Naomi Osaka, who eventually won the China Open.
Yes, it happened. Andreescu lost a full-length match for the first time since March 1 in Acapulco to Sofia Kenin.
Her loss might feel deflating to some fans — partly for the simple reason that it happened, partly because Andreescu led by a set and 3-1, and had a 3-1 lead in the third set as well.
Yet, whatever pain or annoyance might have been caused by this match can clearly subside when one realizes everything Andreescu has accomplished as a teenager.
Indian Wells. Toronto. The U.S. Open.
Yet, it’s more than that.
Andreescu had won 17 straight matches. She had won 13 straight 3-setters. She had won eight straight matches against the top 10 without a loss.
The laws of averages suggest that Andreescu shouldn’t have carried her run into Beijing. Yet, she defied those laws long enough to make Canadian tennis — and sports — history in Toronto and especially New York.
All amazing things must come to an end.
Naomi Osaka defeats 🇨🇦Bianca Andreescu 5-7, 6-3, 6-4 to reach the semifinals of the @ChinaOpen.
Bianca’s unbelievable winning streak ends at 17.
What a run!
— Match Point Canada (@MatchPointCAN) October 4, 2019
The loss to Osaka truly puts in perspective what Andreescu has done — not just the high volume of winning, but without interruption, never falling off the ledge.
The salient reminder about Andreescu’s tennis this year is that while it has been dominant on certain occasions, it has more often been up and down, with Bianca rescuing herself from the valleys with a constancy not commonly found in most tennis pros, not merely most 19-year-old pros.
A celebration of Andreescu’s achievements in 2019 is easy to come by. Canadians and anyone else who follows women’s tennis can readily appreciate that point.
Now comes the next step in the evolution of Bianca Vanessa Andreescu: Creating fewer situations in which she dances on the edge.
This might not happen immediately, but it needs to happen eventually if Bibi is to maximize her career: Andreescu needs to avoid putting herself in position to lose.
⁰Defeats Brady 6-1, 6-3 pic.twitter.com/f4EYSyQS6y
— WTA (@WTA) October 3, 2019
No one questions Andreescu’s toughness, resilience, or overall quality. If she enters a third set, few players on the WTA Tour in late 2019 have shown they can match her.
However, over the long run, this has to be addressed, for one very obvious reason:
Andreescu did not play a full schedule in 2019.
One match in clay season, none in grass season.
When Andreescu carries herself through a full year, the pile of 3-set matches she has accumulated this year — if carried into 2020 — will lead to either fatigue or decreased quality, or both.
Consider Aryna Sabalenka. Look at how many 3-set matches she won in the back end of 2018: 11 3-setters from the Rogers Cup until the end of the season.
2019 did not work out great for her.
Ofc it turns out to be the worst heart I’ve ever drawn when it has to be on camera😂 Happy with my win tho!! Tmrw iz gonna be fun👀😈 https://t.co/wBPZnifvsh
— Bianca (@Bandreescu_) October 3, 2019
Bianca Andreescu is a 3-set giant. She loves those situations. Yet, she led Naomi Osaka by a set and a break in Beijing.
A third set is not what she needed, and it led to the end of several memorable winning streaks in various statistical categories.
The Andr33scu formula can be called upon when needed, but it shouldn’t be used more than absolutely necessary.
If that lesson was learned in Beijing, this great career will continue to improve.