(Reuters) – Canadian Bianca Andreescu’s coach Sylvain Bruneau, whose positive test for COVID-19 was among those that ultimately sent more than 70 players into a 14-day quarantine ahead of the Australian Open, said on Friday he was ready to lead his player.
Bruneau was one of the five passengers from three charter flights that last month carried players to the year’s first Grand Slam, starting on Monday in Melbourne, who had tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
“I was lucky not to get sick,” Bruneau said in a video call will reporters on Friday. “I had a fever one night, that was it. But it’s been a very difficult experience anyway and I’m going to limit it to that for now on that topic.”
World number eight Andreescu, who has not competed since she suffered a knee injury at the 2019 WTA Finals in Shenzhen, was on the same flight as Bruneau and as a result was among those who had to isolate in their hotel rooms.
Andreescu, who became Canada’s first Grand Slam singles champion with her 2019 U.S. Open triumph, had planned to compete in a tune-up event this week but bowed out at the last minute to focus on more training for the Grand Slam.
Bruneau, who helped lead Andreescu through her breakout 2019 season, said that while the 20-year-old had returned from long layoffs before, this was uncharted territory.
“Obviously this has not unfolded the way we wanted because we were counting on having two weeks of more preparation and the lead-up tournaments which on both accounts we were not able to do,” said Bruneau.
“But I must say that we had a really good lead-up period before we travelled to Australia, things were going nice and smooth and she was making progress and we were heading in the right direction.”
Andreescu, who has never reached the third round in her two previous Australian Open appearances, will face Romanian lucky loser Mihaela Buzarnescu in the first round.
Bruneau said Andreescu has had daily practice and played a lot of sets since emerging from quarantine.
“She is feeling great. Her level is getting back slowly where it needs to be, but it’s going to be a totally different experience to go back and compete,” he added.
“I just have a lot of confidence in her, in her skills to handle that kind of pressure and situation, but again we are going to need to wait and see exactly how she reacts.”
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Ken Ferris)