Mihaela Buzarnescu’s happy Hobart return

4 January 2019, by Leigh Rogers

World No.24 Mihaela Buzarnescu returns to Hobart with many happy memories – and she is already creating more.

The Romanian took time out from her tournament preparation to meet Australian wildlife at the Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary today.

“I’m really happy I had a chance to come here and see some of the wild things we don’t have in our country,” she said.

While relishing the opportunity to explore in her second visit to Tasmania, Buzarnescu’s focus remains firmly on her on-court performance. She is hoping to better a runner-up finish from 2018, which was her first WTA-level final.

“It was an amazing experience, I have very good memories,” Buzarnescu, who was ranked No.57 at the time, said of her last visit.

“It helped me see where my level was and believe I can play at a very high level.”

It was a breakthrough performance that helped propel the 30-year-old into the world’s top 20 in 2018. Winning a first WTA title in San Jose in August was another highlight.

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Buzarnescu is the second seed and a title favourite at this year’s Hobart International – but admits she is not phased by her status as one of the top-ranked players in the field.

“I’m always the same person and trying not to put pressure on myself. I just want to enjoy every match,” she said.

“I never have expectations when I’m playing.”

It is one of many lessons Buzarnescu has learnt in a challenging career. Her story is remarkable, characterised by resilience and patience as multiple injury setbacks meant she did not make her Grand Slam main draw debut until she was 29.

From a year-end ranking of No.377 in 2016, Buzarnescu finished last year at No.24. A top 10 rise is her next goal – although Buzarnescu, who completed a doctorate in sports science in 2016, is not putting too much pressure on herself. She’s just enjoying having the chance to finally fulfill her dreams.

“Everything is possible – but also impossible at the same time. As long as I’m healthy and playing good, then the results will hopefully come,” she said.