The career of 23-year-old Eugenie Bouchard has been brief yet nothing short of a rollercoaster ride. The Canadian burst onto the scene by upsetting Ana Ivanovic to reach the third round of Wimbledon and posting a series of results impressive enough to earn her the WTA Newcomer of the Year award in 2013. Regarded as a threat going into the 2014 season, Bouchard rose to the occasion and truly delivered. She reached the semifinals or better at three out of the four majors. Her most notable appearance was at the Wimbledon Championships where she reached the final losing to Petra Kvitova. Bouchard’s stellar results at the slams allowed her to qualify for the WTA Championships and finish the season at number 7 in the world.
Struggles with Form
After such an impressive mature performance throughout 2014, many expected Genie to only get better in 2015. Alas, the task and pressure attached to being a top 5 player proved to be too much for her as she spent most of 2015 suffering shocking, early-round exits at almost every tournament she played. Things began to look up when Bouchard reached the fourth round of the U.S. Open when unexpectedly, she withdrew from the tournament after suffering a concussion in the locker room. The concussion’s effect lingered throughout the rest of her season as she only played one more match before calling it quits on her 2015 year. 2016 emerged and Genie seemed to be back on the right track. She reached two finals by March but experienced mixed results throughout the season and ended the year ranked #46 in the world.
Bouchard vs. Sharapova
Bouchard’s bad form continued throughout 2017 until she came to Madrid. There was a lot on her mind going into the premier mandatory event. She was dealing with the fact that she hadn’t won a tour-level match since January. Genie also had to worry about the lawsuit she filed against the USTA for negligence contributing to her concussion at the 2015 U.S. Open. If that wasn’t enough, the press was badgering her about her thoughts on the return of Maria Sharapova, someone Genie considered a childhood idol. How did Bouchard respond exactly? Known for her candor, she gave pressers exactly what they were looking for. “She is a cheater and so to me, I don’t think a cheater in any sport should be allowed to play that sport again. It’s so unfair to all the other players who do it the right way and are true.”
Genie’s sentiments on Sharapova echoed throughout the tennis community and for the first time, she felt embraced by her peers. They commended her for speaking out, something many of her colleagues shied away from doing. The support combined with the fact that Bouchard must now square off against Sharapova certainly lit a fire within Bouchard’s heart. With this newfound determination she overcame Alize Cornet, someone whom she lost to the last time they played. Up next, Sharapova. This was it. The moment she, and countless tennis fans had been waiting for. Fans were salivating the very moment they stepped on the court. The two traded blows from start to finish showing bursts of passion here and there but by the third hour of play, it was over. Bouchard emerged the victor, 7-5, 2-6, 6-4. She jumped and screamed out of sheer joy. It’s as if fate wanted Bouchard to come out on top. The two met at the net giving each other a brief, perhaps cold handshake. How could you blame them though?
As if beating Sharapova wasn’t enough, up next for Bouchard is soon-to-be number one again Angelique Kerber. She owns a 4-3 record against the German and has won their only two meetings on clay. Can Eugenie Bouchard continue her resurgence or will the flame die out in the third round? What do you think? Comment below!