Bianca Andreescu’s comeback stalls with loss at Australian Open

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MELBOURNE, Australia — Former U.S. Open champion Bianca Andreescu’s comeback from injury stalled Wednesday at the Australian Open when she became the latest top-10 player to be beaten by crafty veteran Hsieh Su-wei of Taiwan.

Andreescu’s power was no match for Hsieh’s shotmaking in a second-round upset, 6-3, 6-2.

Andreescu beat Serena Williams in the final at the 2019 U.S. Open but sat out all of 2020 because of a knee injury. She said she felt rusty but healthy this week.

“I definitely have to get back in the groove of things,” said Andreescu, who was seeded eighth. “I don’t feel at my best on the court, for sure, but I’m super happy I’m finally back after being off for so long. It’s such an amazing feeling being back and doing what I love.”

Williams followed Andreescu onto the court at Rod Laver Arena and had only 11 unforced errors as she swept Nina Stojanovic 6-3, 6-0.

“I wasn’t thinking so much in the second set as I was in the first,” Williams said. “I kind of just let go and see what happened.”

Andreescu, a 20-year-old Canadian, seemed befuddled by the 35-year-old Hsieh’s unorthodox game, which includes a two-handed forehand and an unpredictable mix of pace and placement.

“She can literally redirect any single ball you give her,” Andreescu said. “She can change the rhythm. I can change the rhythm too, but she’s on another level, at least today.”

It didn’t help that Andreescu served poorly, losing 17 of 23 points on her second serve. She was broken six times and fell to 1-3 in the second round at Grand Slams, with the lone win coming during her run to the U.S. Open title.

Hsieh is ranked 71st and has a history of inconsistency. But she’s 8-2 against top 10 players, including two wins over the reigning world No. 1 — Simona Halep at Wimbledon in 2018, and Naomi Osaka at Miami in 2019.

“It’s strange – I normally feel more excited to play with better players,” Hsieh said.

Another Canadian mounting a comeback also lost. Rebecca Marino, a former top-40 player competing in a major tournament for the first time in eight years, was beaten by No. 19-seeded Marketa Vondrousova 6-1, 7-5.

Marino had been sidelined with depression and then a serious foot injury.

Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, the 2019 Australian Open runner-up, lost to Sorana Cirstea 6-4, 1-6, 6-1. Garbine Muguruza, the Australian Open runner-up last year, defeated Liudmila Samsonova 6-3, 6-1.

Ann Li, a 20-year-old American, reached the third round for the second major in a row by beating Alize Cornet 6-2, 7-6 (6). No. 7-seeded Aryna Sabalenka eliminated Daria Kasatkina 7-6 (5), 6-3.

In men’s play, qualifier Aslan Karatsev of Russia nearly shut out Egor Gerasimov, 6-0, 6-1, 6-0. No. 8 Diego Schwartzman and No. 20 Felix Auger-Aliassime were among the seeded men to advance.