Takeaways From Bouchard’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Tennis Bat Mitzvah
“I don’t have any weaknesses,” a then-19-year-old Eugenie Bouchard told press at an International in Washington, D.C. She was ranked No. 58 at the time.
What about friends? Who needs them? She came here to be No. 1.
“I don’t think the tennis tour is the place to have friends. For me, it’s all competition,” she said in Paris en route to her second straight major semifinal. The Canadian later disavowed any notion that she stayed in contact with former BFF Laura Robson at Wimbledon.
There is rarely a time when Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard isn’t talking the talk.
But with a long list of milestones in 2014 – a maiden title, a Grand Slam final, and a Top 5 ranking – it’s difficult to argue that she hasn’t walked the walk in what has been her breakthrough season.
Though that hasn’t stopped people from trying.
Bouchard has made a solid career out of beating the players in front of her, particularly doing so when it matters most; the Risingest of Rising Stars leads the field in Grand Slam match wins this season, and was one of the only players to reach the second week of all four major tournaments. The Canadian has proven more than capable of holding her nerve under pressure, but largely against less-intimidating opposition.
She reached her first Grand Slam quarterfinal against hometown favorite Casey Dellacqua, then ranked No. 120 (who has since risen as high as No. 26). She reached her first French Open semifinal by beating No. 15 Carla Suarez Navarro, a notoriously weak closer who lead Bouchard big in all three sets of their nearly three-hour epic. At Wimbledon, she trailed Roland Garros runner-up Simona Halep by a break in the semifinals before the Romanian suffered an ankle injury, leaving one of the Tour’s best movers effectively kneecapped.
These softer draws have hardly been by design. The Canadian was in Serena Williams’s quarter of the draw in Australia, and could have played her as early as the round of 16 at Wimbledon. With the American’s shocking losses at the Grand Slam tournaments, Bouchard had managed to avoid her throughout the year, making a rematch of their three-set Cincinnati encounter in 2013 the most anticipated of the season.
The WTA Finals in Singapore, then, represented the ideal situation for all who have watched the No. 5 seed’s ascent into the upper echelons of the game. In a draw comprised solely of big names, it looked as though her talk would finally be put to the test.
What unfolded was a disappointing result of historical proportions. Bouchard not only failed to win a match – against admittedly stiff opposition – but she also nabbed the fewest games of any player to have gone 0-3 at the Year End Championships:
Bouchard found herself forced to hit the ground running under a tremendous amount of pressure. With her practice routine derailed by a mid-autumn left leg injury, she was despondent with coach Nick Saviano. Calling him out at a set down to No. 7 seed Ana Ivanovic, she muttered “Why did I even play this tournament?”
The moment was reminiscent of the Canadian’s disastrous homecoming in Montreal. Falling behind 0-5 to young American Shelby Rogers, she spoke to Saviano about wanting to leave the court. She went on to lose 6-0, 2-6, 6-0.
There is something to be said about a player who speaks with such self-confidence might be trying to convince themselves as much as everyone else. When she’s not feeling the pressure, that kind of positivity lifts her game, and causes her to improve with every victory. But there have been a handful of moments – at the Rogers Cup then and in Singapore now – where the camera catches Bouchard off-guard, and you get the sense that she feels like a fraud, like she doesn’t believe the hype.
But the Wimbledon finalist is nothing if not tenacious, and looks to be taking what could have been a painful wake-up call in stride. Ultimately revealing a more self-aware streak behind the bravado, Bouchard refused to mince words after losing to top seed Serena Williams.
“I got my butt kicked, but I had fun. It actually motivates me to try to get better. I see how much better I can get in so many areas my game.”
It’s that kind of perspective that can turn a no good, very bad week into a stellar next season.
Very good article. I’m not a fan but I will say that overall she seems to be handling the hype better than Sloane has. Could definitely use an attitude adjustment though- and being “a kid”/ 20 is a poor excuse.
I’m not a particular fan of Genie, but it’s interesting to see the moments of sounding less confident. That speaks volumes as to how much her usual bluster (which puts a lot of people off) is to build her own confidence and not show the lack of confidence. While, yes, I can see how that works, it isn’t great for necessarily endearing yourself to the fans. Still, she’s had a great year, and so what if the WTA finals didn’t go to plan – she’ll be back.
There’s been some comparison of Genie’s 2014 to Djokovic’s 2007, both were breakthrough years, both made their first slam finals, and both made the YEC and bombed it. I felt like Novak was immature, brash, with a little bit of arrogance in him, and I think I see it in Genie as well.
It’ll be interesting in the next several months to see her build on her year. It seemed like she was more tired of all of the media and such than anything else. But it also is evident she has a lot to learn. The attitude may need to change, but I think the mentality is there, if it’s used in the right direction.
Any and every article written about Bouchard by this particular author should be taken with a grain of salt, given what he previously wrote…
A) Bouchard is a very mediocre version of Wozniacki
B) Bouchard will struggle to make the transition from juniors to pros
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Those points were made with a caveat; she’s clearly not the same player she was when those things were written. The improvements she made in a year are astounding, but don’t negate commentary on the game she used to play.
Tennis players don’t change playing styles in less than one year (rare even throughout an entire career). But I appreciate your sporting response. Cheers
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I agree there’s great psychological complexity behind all the bravado which makes her an interesting player to watch. But I worry more about her forehand, it’s just not big enough to end points easily, and she will have to scramble too much to win her points. I think her style is headed in the opposite direction of where tennis is going; she stays low and incredibly grounded but the game is going to be about flying into booming shots, particularly forehands.
Surely the YEC results for Bouchard could only have been a surprise to those who don’t follow tennis regularly (e.g only watch the slams). About the only moderately surprising result was Halep beating her. Surely Bouchard hardly had a chance against Serena and Ivanovic is also a more talented player, just one who underachieves a lot. But, speaking of weapons, Ivanovic actually has a world-beating one: her forehand. Does Bouchard really have any weapons, technically speaking and not the cliched ‘attitude’ references, that could be considered top five worthy? Her serve isn’t the best, nor her movement, nor her groundies and nor even her volleys. Do folks watch match ups like Stosur v/s Flipkens? That’s a great net battle. But whoever’s heard of Flipkens, right?