Bouchard: “Life is not a straight line upwards”
The Canadian failed to qualify for the Australian Open but is still hoping to find her way back to the top in 2020.
Time flies. In 2014, Eugenie Bouchard seemed poised to be a tennis force to reckon with for many years: she was 5th in the world with a first Grand Slam final under her belt (Wimbledon). Then the downs started to pile on the ups, and little by little she lost the path. She’s now 211 in the ranking after a 2019 season where she won only eight matches and kept struggling with injuries. But this year, she seems already on a much better track: she played the quarter-finals in Auckland and won two matches in the qualifications in Melbourne.
Very far from the top, still, but at least it’s a first baby step. She fought hard in her first round, was very good in the second but then all collapsed a little bit in the last. As if arriving so close from the goal had been too much pressure-wise. She wants it so badly, she has such a risky game: it’s a tricky combo. Especially for someone who is not used to play matches in a row under pressure anymore. Beaten by the Italian Martina Trevisan (6-4, 6-3) despite many chances, she was obviously very disappointed. “It’s super tough. I felt I was close and really wanted to win. There’s a lot of mental work going into matches and into keeping the focus so when you’ve lost this habit it can be tough to do it day after day. Sure, it’s frustrating because I wasn’t that far in the score and yet so far from what my game can be. I felt slow and heavy on the court. It’s just one of those days where things weren’t working.”
With the losses coming and coming, “Genie” has lost lots of confidence and so the player who was able to hit winners from anywhere on the court has become someone who misses way too much. As her game has been built to hit harder than hard and go for each shot like it’s the last, it’s very complicated to give it now a safer version. That could be why she worked so hard physically in the offseason: to be able to defend better and longer, to avoid having to find a winner too early in the rallies. But then, that’s also what made her so good back in the day, that ability to be a shot-maker. She knows she’s in a rough patch, she knows sponsors aren’t putting her as a priority anymore, she knows many have lost faith in her ability to come back to the top. Still, she doesn’t want to give up.
“Life is not a straight line upwards, so I just take the good and the bad. Sometimes you just have to put your head down and grind so that’s what I’m trying to do. I’ve put in the work in the offseason so now the goal is to play as many matches as I can, winning matches because practice can’t replicate that. There’s more positive than negative out of those first weeks of the year so I have to use to be motivated and aware that I’m on the right track. Seeing how I played in the matches I’ve won, seeing I’ve now won more matches in two weeks than in the past six months… Never give up, always work hard.” She’s still a polarizing figure on a tour where her rivals haven’t forgotten nor forgiven the little care she showed to them, but she’s definitely someone whose game and temper would be a worthy addition to the outsiders for titles out there.