Bouchard feels turnaround is near despite early Toronto exit
It may not seem like it from Tuesday’s result, Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard feels she is turning things around while continuing to play through a difficult 2015 season.
The Canadian saw another opening match tournament exit on Tuesday, her ninth this year, this time in front of loving compatriots in Toronto at the Rogers Cup, ousted by fast rising teenager Belinda Bencic, 18, of Switzerland 6-0, 5-7, 6-2.
Despite giving up the bagel in the opening set to world’s 20th ranked women’s singles tennis player, Bouchard (WTA no. 25) came out fighting in the second to take a 3-0 lead. And while the inconsistencies that have plagued her recently resurfaced forcing her to face match point a little later, Bouchard kept the faith and herself alive by breaking Bencic twice in the business end to force a decider. For the 21-year old from Westmount, Quebec, there is something to take from that combative spirit.
“I feel like I started out a little bit rusty in a sense,” Bouchard said. “I haven’t had a lot of match play recently, but I was able to raise my game and I think it was pretty competitive out there after the first set, so I’m pleased with my performance.”
“It’s for sure a step in the right direction.”
This new direction comes at the expense of now an ‘old’ coach, although he had only been at the helm for about half a year. The departure of Sam Sumyk (under whom results had been fleeting to nonexistent) from Bouchard’s camp signals the player’s wish to return to a more instinctive style of tennis.
“It definitely wasn’t working. There were some big problems. I just felt like I had to make the change,” Bouchard said of the decision to part ways with Sumyk. She wants to feel like her former self again, the one who jumped to number six in the WTA world rankings in 2014 by competing for every point on the court by believing she can win.
“During the first set I stayed pretty calm, which I think helped me to regroup in the second. I didn’t freak out even though I lost six love, and I just thought to myself I was just shaking off the rust a little bit, and I really didn’t panic and I think that was the key to at least give myself a chance to raise my game.”
Along with a string of frustrating outcomes (Bouchard’s 2015 record in all tournaments now stands at eight wins versus 15 losses), she has had to deal with a lingering abdominal injury. That too, the Canadian feels is in the past.
“I played the whole match pain free. That was one of the goals and most important one maybe, so I’m really happy about that as well. I wasn’t worried, I’ve done a lot of training in recent weeks… I’m happy with the way my body responded.”
Bouchard says she needs more matches now to test her fitness, along with the confidence she can take from good training days and occasional moments of small triumphs during Tuesday’s contest.
“Next for me is Cincinnati, using these next couple of weeks as preparation ultimately for the U.S. Open, but I’m going to go into each week with some goals to try and perform well and play good tennis, and try to build on this match today.”
While many will have written off this disappointing season, Bouchard isn’t at all ready to call it quits. She wants to redeem herself before the calendar flips to 2016.
“I’m looking forward to the rest of the year as a chance to end (it) on a better note than it started.”
“I just want to get on the court, I’m just so eager to play tournaments, to play matches and feel good. My goals are to be healthy, to perform well during the matches and that’s really it, I don’t have any expectations besides that.”
Heading into the final stretch, Bouchard is confident she has the inner strength and the personnel around her to come out with a renewal.
“It’s been a long, patient battle and I feel like I’m close to turning it around.”
“I’ve had the support of my inner team, the close people around me. Everyone believes in me so much and (they) remind me that I do have the skill, the talent – everything I need. It’s just about putting in the hard work, putting it all together and it’ll eventually come.”