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Bianca Andreescu plays Harmony Tan in the first round of the U.S. Open in New York on Aug. 29.The Associated Press

Before the start of her opening match at the U.S. Open, Canada’s Bianca Andreescu had a small wardrobe mishap.

She’d come out in a billowing dress more suited to lazy patios in Carroll Gardens than gusting tennis courts in Flushing Meadows. It must have been a bit like playing in a toga.

Realizing her problem, Andreescu asked the chair umpire for a chance to run back and change.

“It’s not my fault,” Andreescu said. “It’s Nike’s fault.”

Hear hear. I feel the same way on those rare occasions when I attempt to jog.

For Andreescu, here it was – the built-in excuse. She’d come in with her focus lasered in and then those butter-fingered cutters at the Nike atelier had put her in a mainsail. You try playing tennis after that happens to you. But that excuse was not required.

Another potential excuse – her opponent, Harmony Tan. Tan is the French counter-puncher who ruined Serena Williams’s final Wimbledon. Just at the moment, she is the most famous upset specialist in the game. But that excuse was not needed either.

Andreescu played one of her signature Grand Slam matches – at times, overwhelming; at others, overwhelmed. But she resisted the urge to fold up when it was presented to her, down 4-0 in the second set. The Canadian won 6-0, 3-6, 6-1.

If you’re an optimist, she’s set up nicely. Her quarter of the bracket spares her early run-ins with Iga Swiatek or an unseeded Naomi Osaka. Her next opponent is a serious competitor – recent National Bank Open finalist Beatriz Haddad Maia – but maybe that’s the sort of early jab in the nose she needs. If she gets over that hump, it could be smooth sailing until the semis.

If you’re a pessimist, there’s history. It’s been a minute since Andreescu did anything smoothly at a major.

We’ve been in the Andreescu redemption arc for so long now, it’s getting hard to remember what she did to earn one. She’s still only 22, but in women’s tennis, 28 is old.

Andreescu has earned herself a lot of slack by winning this country’s first singles Grand Slam.

And there’s no shame in winning just one of something no one else can win in the first place, but it tends to create an expectation.

That expectation has started hanging off Andreescu like tin cans as she goes into every big tournament. It must not be any fun to have a bubble hanging over your head reading ‘Is this finally it?’ every time you appear on TV.

Andreescu has done a pretty amazing job of wrestling in public with that expectation. She has a fun, vaguely hippy-dippy way of talking about mixing real life with the mostly phony life of pro sports. But it must be difficult to look forward when people constantly insist on pulling you back to the non-glory days.

In a pre-tournament interview with the Guardian, Andreescu said that there was a moment – “for a split second” – that she thought about giving it all up.

A generation ago, quitter talk was verboten. Now, for a certain type of name-brand star suffering a downturn in fortune, it is expected.

Lesser talents who live on the bubble of pro sports never talk about how hard it was until after it’s over, if they ever do. They don’t have the luxury of saying something that might be taken amiss by their employers or sponsors.

That they’re still writing these things about Andreescu re-establishes her place as a heavy hitter of the sport, despite catching little competitive traction over the last three years. That she can slag off Nike and then wave it away later (“I love Nike and I hope I can be with them for the rest of my life”) is further proof.

But this is a rule of sport – if the media are asking you to lay your woes on them, you still matter. Once they stop, you’re done. The trick is not stringing out the first thing so long that it becomes the second.

None of this is Andreescu’s fault. She’s not trying to lose. She doesn’t get injured on purpose. It’s not her fault. It’s her body’s fault.

But in the end, the sports-industrial complex does not care what you would like to happen. It only cares that you are producing the sort of content that draws an audience.

Winning is best, followed by controversy, golden oldies, hometown favourites and redemption arcs.

Roger Federer beating Nick Kyrgios in the final of his swan-song Wimbledon is the ultimate tennis match, because it’s got an absolute ton of all those things.

Andreescu is in danger of having none of those things.

Winning solves anything. Anytime Andreescu wins anything, she will be back on the front page. If she wins a major, she’s a global household name again.

But without winning, the journey is about to become a slog. There are only so many ‘she’s so close to breaking out’ pieces anyone can publish or broadcast before it gets old. At a guess, three years – which is to say, this U.S. Open – is that limit.

Andreescu seems to get that. She isn’t tip-toeing into this one. She said after Monday’s match that she’s made a self-portrait of herself holding the U.S. Open trophy in 2019 the lock screen on her phone.

“Like, I don’t have it all the time,” Andreescu said. “I just did it for this tournament.”

And what about this tournament? There’s an acre of difference between an athlete who’s coming back and one who’s arrived. Is she ready to win it all?

Athletes on the comeback would say something measured about wanting to perform at their best.

Andreescu said, “Yes, I am. I really believe I can do it.”