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TORONTO — Let us get the important stuff out of the way first: Drake has made contact with Bianca Andreescu.
While the new U.S. Open champion was doing her media whirlwind in New York over the past few days — Jimmy Fallon, Ryan and Kelly, The View, The Top of the Rock — she let slip that while many famous Canadians had offered their congratulations in the days since she had made history, Drake was not among them.
She was joking about it, to be clear, in a what’s-a-girl-gotta-do way. But he apparently got the message. At the end of her conquering-soldier press conference on Wednesday at Aviva Center, the local home of Tennis Canada, she said, unprompted, that Drake had messaged her. She pulled out her phone, in a canary-yellow case. Andreescu read from the hip-hop star’s message, which said he had been “liking” her various posts, and thought she would notice. There was an LOL in there. She hadn’t responded yet, she said. She wasn’t sure what to say. But, Andreescu assured us, she wouldn’t “R-bomb him.” This caused the older people in the room — myself definitely included — to try to figure out what she meant, at which point the whippersnappers explained that an R-bomb is when you do not reply to a message. And here I thought that was called ghosting. By the time I learn a new term that kids use, it is bound to be out of date.
Anyway: Drake and Bianca are cool now.
She sounds pretty cool with everything, if we’re honest. Jimmy Fallon was cool — “I still can’t believe I was on that show. I didn’t, like, think he was a real person before meeting him.” Taking a private plane back to Toronto was cool — “No need to go through customs or security! I was back home in 45 minutes.” The #SheTheNorth hashtag was cool, and going to Yorkdale with friends like a regular teenager on Tuesday was cool, even if she gets recognized a lot more now.
And yet, as much as all of this is stunningly new for Andreescu, as evidenced by the last-minute decorations being thrown up for the press conference, including a poster of her kissing the U.S. Open trophy and a Tennis Canada logo on the desk at the front of the room, she continues to show an impressive ability to keep it all in stride. She’s already talking about doing just a little bit more celebrating with friends here at home, before focusing on what’s next in her season. She wants to make the WTA Tour Finals in China, which means finishing the season inside the top eight in the ranking; she is at fifth now. And she wants to crack the top three. All reachable goals for the end of her year, although they would have seemed about as likely at this time last September as her deciding she wanted to sprout wings.
More generally, though, Andreescu offers this: “I have pretty big expectations for myself. I’ve accomplished a lot in this past year, and I feel like I can do even more in this sport,” said. “So I’m just going to keep striving, and hopefully win many more Grand Slams from here.”
Not just more. Many more. It is this attitude that makes you wonder how high her ceiling can be. We have long wondered if a Canadian could finally win a singles Slam title. Now that this particular player has won one, it’s not hard to imagine her winning bunches of them.
There is much that could change, obviously, beginning with her health. But she noted on Wednesday that her weeks-long injury layoff, a result of summer shoulder surgery, was probably a blessing. She had played a lot in the early season, a direct result of the fact that she kept winning matches and going deep in tournaments. “So, I’m glad I got that chance to chill a little bit,” she said.
Considering that she still hasn’t lost since she returned — covering the Rogers Cup and the U.S. Open — it seems to have worked out OK.
Her health and her desire will be big factors, but the thing that most seems to have lifted her ceiling is the fact that she has just been so damn good, so soon. One of the better illustrations of her ridiculously steep rise to number five in the world: there are four women ranked higher than her, and she still has never played two of them (Ashleigh Barty, Naomi Osaka) and has never lost to the other two (Karolina Pliskova, Elina Svitolina).
All athletes go through rough patches, and Andreescu will almost certainly find herself in one at some point. Perhaps as she plays more matches against top-tier opponents, there will start to be a bit of a book on how to frustrate her; one of the features of this insane rookie season is that her varied game catches a lot of players off guard.
But it’s also entirely possible that she keeps this hot streak going. Her U.S. Open was one test after another: unknown opponent on a small court, super-famous opponent on a huge court, crafty rookie, steady veteran, and on and on. She knocked them all down. Most incredibly, in a match where Serena Williams didn’t give her the chance to deploy her vast arsenal, Andreescu stood back and outslugged the most successful power hitter of all time. Why wouldn’t she set her goals outrageously high now?
“I think that’s what really gets me going, is just to create history and win as many Grand Slams as possible, and become No. 1 in the world,” she said. “Like my Mom always says to me, ‘don’t forget who you are, and dream big to get big,’ and I think I’ve been doing that for a pretty long time now.”
She may have been dreaming big for a while now, but the rest of the country is just starting.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019