In looking at today’s Australian Open schedule, while it’s startlingly pleasant to see the Canadian flag in a semi-final, it hardly seems surprising to read ‘Eugenie Bouchard’ in the name slot.
That’s because it’s no surprise.
Remember: Bouchard used last season to skip the triple-digits AND linebacker numbers in the WTA rankings, going from 144th to 32nd. That gave her seeded-status at this year’s first Grand Slam. Crucial.
And it’s not so much the mere truth she made the leap that buoys her status as belonging, but how she managed to do it.
She has never seemed frantic. Never a fluttering feel-good, reaching beyond her athleticism to defeat the stars. Last year Bouchard beat four top-15 players. She’s not punching above her weight, this is her class.
“I want to win a title (in 2014), that’s for sure,” she said last month after being named CP Female Athlete of the Year.
“I’ll be happy with any title but the bigger the tournament is the better it will be. And my ultimate objective is a Grand Slam.”
Sometimes the loftiest goals make the simplest proclamations.
During the Ivanovic match on Tuesday it was the Serbian no. 14 seed who showed the most teetering emotion, and discontent. Bouchard was routinely aggressive and effective at the net. She was calm when it was called for, and even when it wasn’t. According to Tennis Canada, 1.6 million Canadians watched a focused Bouchard pass in and out of the shadows of Rod Laver Arena.
And more will watch tonight. Below Bouchard’s name on the schedule is China’s Li Na, ranked no. 4, the highest remaining in the tournament. Li Na has given up only one break point in her last two matches. It’ll be a good test.
But again, history provides confidence in Genies’ ability to rise up. She’s pushed no. 1 Serena Williams to the brink. In some way, she did the same this week by dispatching Ivanovic, who had upset Williams in round 4.
If many things are temporary in sport, today’s Australian Open semi between (30) E. Bouchard and (4) N. Li is no different. It will play out. The ‘30’ next to Genie’s name will surely change. But regardless of the outcome, what isn’t likely to go away is the young Canadian’s mental force. And that’s plenty good for the rest of 2014.