Eugenie Bouchard: “It's very exciting. It's what I've worked so long for. I'm just proud of myself” - UBITENNIS
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Eugenie Bouchard: “It's very exciting. It's what I've worked so long for. I'm just proud of myself”

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TENNIS WIMBLEDON 2014 – 3rd July. E. Bouchard d. S. Halep 7-6, 6-2. An interview with Eugenie Bouchard

 

Q. How much of a relief is it to get past the semis this time and make it into a Grand Slam final?

EUGENIE BOUCHARD: I wouldn’t use the word ‘relief,’ but I’m happy to get to my first Grand Slam final. It’s very exciting. It’s what I’ve worked so long for, you know.

I’m just proud of myself for today’s effort.

 

Q. You seemed so subdued in victory. What are the emotions that you experienced on the court when you realized you were in the Wimbledon final?

EUGENIE BOUCHARD: Well, I felt like it should have happened a game earlier, so I already had that emotion in my head already.

But, you know, it’s not like a surprise to me. I expect good results like this. So for me, I was like, Okay, good. It’s a step in the right direction. I get to play in the final. You know, I still have another match, so it’s not a full celebration yet.

 

Q. What does this mean to you to be the first Canadian to reach a Grand Slam final?

EUGENIE BOUCHARD: I get to make Canadian history again. It’s always exciting and special when I can make history. My job is not done. I want to go another step further.

 

So I’m going to stay focused and enjoy it after.

 

Q. What went on with the first match point? You seemed to have a long discussion with the umpire.

EUGENIE BOUCHARD: Yeah, when Simona tossed I heard someone scream in the crowd. It had happened a few times already. This time I didn’t feel prepared to return.

So I put my hand up. The umpire told me he heard it, as well, but he just didn’t see my hand go up. But, you know, it only went up after someone screamed, which was pretty much when she was going to serve.

I don’t know, somewhat of an unfortunate incident. I didn’t feel ready to return and I put my hand up. Yeah, I felt like we should have replayed the point, but he said, no, it was her point.

I took it as a challenge and tried to keep going.

 

Q. What about the incident in the tiebreak when you had to stop?

EUGENIE BOUCHARD: Yeah, a few odd things happened in this match. In the first set twice, I mean, basically we took a few minutes’ break randomly. First she took a medical timeout and then someone in the crowd was feeling unwell.

You know, it’s unfortunate that someone was feeling bad. I think we were both kind of feeling bad for someone like that.

But it’s pretty tough to stop in the middle of a tiebreak. You know, it was intense, and then to just kind of not play tennis for three minutes messes up the rhythm.

But, again, you know, I took it as a challenge. I was like, Okay, this is the same for both of us. This is happening. I’ll just go out and try my best.

I missed the next return. It wasn’t a great point. But then I stepped up my game.

 

Q. You talked about success not feeling ahead of schedule for you. When did you sort of feel like you might be in the 2014 Wimbledon final? When did this seem like a plausible goal?

EUGENIE BOUCHARD: Well, I always want to go as far as I can in any tournament. I didn’t set a specific goal of reaching a certain round of this tournament, but I’ve been feeling good these whole two weeks.

After doing well in the past few slams, I’ve been believing since the beginning of the tournament that I can do really well. You know, I’m just trying to take it one match at a time. It’s really important not to get ahead of ourselves.

But yeah, you know, I totally feel like I belong, and I’m just so excited for the next match.

 

Q. You talk a lot about looking forward to your next match. I wonder whether or not as this two week period has gone on you’ve taken any time to look back at the run you’ve gone on here and how that makes you feel, and what lessons you might be able to take out of the previous matches you played here?

EUGENIE BOUCHARD: I really try to do both. I really try to keep my blinders on and just focus on the next step, you know, whether it’s a day of practice or the next match.

But I also try to appreciate, you know, the effort I put in in my previous match. I’ll enjoy this win a little bit, then soon enough it’s time to focus again.

More I’d say at the end of the tournaments or trips I’ll kind of take a moment to reflect and look back. But it’s really important for me to just keep going. You know, my job is not finished here, so that’s my mindset.

 

Q. You’re now set to play in the biggest match on the biggest court in the biggest tournament. The other day you were talking your favorite show is the Big Bang Theory. Do you think this is a kind of a big bang?

EUGENIE BOUCHARD: Someone made that really lame joke a few days ago. I called him out on it. So I’m going to have to say that was really lame again.

I’m just trying my best, you know. Just, like I said, so excited. This is what I’ve worked my whole life for.

 

Q. How much did nerves come into play on the match points at the end? Was it more so than in the other semis just because victory was at hand maybe?

EUGENIE BOUCHARD: I mean, I think there were a little bit of nerves, but I’ve had that, you know, in my previous match. Before each match I’m a little bit nervous, which I think is normal. I think everyone is.

I wouldn’t say it affected me that much. I was feeling pretty calm on the inside and kind of took the whole situation, you know, like I said, as a challenge. I really wanted to prove to myself, okay, there was a little mess-up or something, but I can do this.

On the changeover I was very calm. I thought to myself, I can do this. I just went out and tried to play some good tennis.

The tennis was not great the whole match, you know. It was a bit up and down, I think. But I’m happy, you know, I could play some good points at the end.

 

Q. Do you have any unusual fitness regimes? I understand you do hurdles and also run dragging weighted sleds behind you?

EUGENIE BOUCHARD: Yeah, those are not fun. I haven’t done those, you know, during the tournament. Usually we keep it more just kind of day-to-day managing, not so much intense fitness.

But I enjoy working hard. I love a good gym session.

I wouldn’t say I do anything odd. But, you know, lots of squats, lungs, dead lifts, all that good stuff. It’s getting really physical nowadays, the game, so you’ve got to be, like, in top shape.

 

Q. As someone who has played the full two weeks here, can I ask how key for you the middle Sunday is? Is it something you quite enjoy?

EUGENIE BOUCHARD: I enjoy it. I think it’s a quaint tradition that Wimbledon has. I know this year it was kind of frustrating for some players just because they couldn’t play because of the rain. Then of course it’s sunny on Sunday and no one can play.

But I think it’s nice to keep these traditions. So many tournaments don’t have, you know, important traditions that they keep, and Wimbledon does. Along with the all white, all that stuff.

I think it’s so unique, so I love it.

 

Q. A lot of people are comparing you to Maria Sharapova and Anna Kournikova, saying you’re the big money-maker on the women’s tour. What are your thoughts on that?

EUGENIE BOUCHARD: I see it two ways. I see it as a compliment to be compared to someone like Sharapova who has won five slams. You know, she’s a great champion. I see it in a positive light.

But also I’m my own person. I don’t want to be, you know, the next someone else. I want to be the first of me. You know, I want to be my own individual person. That’s what I do. You know, I’ll try to make my own history.

 

Q. When you think about Petra Kvitova, what do you remember of her winning Wimbledon? What are your thoughts on the challenge of facing her now?

EUGENIE BOUCHARD: I think it will be my toughest match yet. I’m looking forward to the challenge.

I know she obviously likes the grass and has some good weapons, so I will be ready for those. I’ll try to impose my own weapons and game against her.

I think we’ll both be going at it, which will make for a very good, you know, match.

Interviews

Maria Sakkari Powers Past Swiatek, Badosa Stuns Sabalenka At WTA Finals

There was a lot of emotion displayed during the second day of the season-ending event.

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Maria Sakkari (image via https://twitter.com/WTA_insider)

Maria Sakkari registered her first win at the WTA Finals in Guadalajara, Mexico by beating the Pole Iga Swiatek 6-2, 6-4 in one hour and 26 minutes.

 

Sakkari, who is the first player from her country to participate in the event, fired 15 winners while the world number nine hit 29 unforced errors in the loss during their latest clash. It is the third time this season the 26-year-old has beaten Swiatek in straight sets after the French Open and Ostrava.

“I think it was a very solid match from my side,” wtatennis.com quoted Sakkari as saying during her press conference. “Obviously my serve really helped my game. I felt quite good with the altitude. I could control my shots pretty well. I think every day I’ll feel even better.
“I actually have a good game to play against [Swiatek]. All three times I played her, I played one of the best matches of the season. Like even today, I think I was very solid in these conditions.”

The first set stayed on serve for the first two games and then it was the world number six who started to put the pressure and managed to get the first break of serve to take an early 2-1 lead. The set continued on serve with the Greek able to consolidate the break and at 4-2 managed to go up a double break and that was enough for her to serve it out.

During the second frame the match stayed on serve until 3-3 when again it was the Athens native who had two chances to break. On the the second time of asking she managed once again to get the crucial break and serve out the match. Towards the end a frustrated Swiatek started to cry on court.

“I’m very proud that I can be the first woman, Greek woman, to actually represent my country into the Top 10 and of course in this tournament. It feels amazing to be able to travel around the world playing these tournaments, being one of the best players, and being from my country. I’m very, very proud of that.” Sakkari commented.

Badosa Smokes Sabalenka

image via twitter.com/WTA_insider

In the other group match of the day, Spain’s Paula Badosa pulled off a shock win by upsetting top seed two Aryna Sabalenka 6-4, 6-0 in one hour and 16 minutes. She was initially down 2-4 in the first set before going on to win 10 straight games to claim the victory.

“I think I played pretty good,” Badosa said. “The conditions are tough here to play, but I think I played an amazing match. She’s an amazing player. I knew I had to play like this. I’m really happy with my match.”

The world number 10 hit 14 winners and served five aces in the win while Belorussian looked rusty hitting 31 unforced errors in the loss.

Badosa now goes to the top her group as she has lost the fewest games so far in the tournament. As for Sabalenka, she admits that a breakdown in her mental game hampered her latest performance.

“After I lost the serve, I was really disappointed in myself and emotionally I was, like, really crazy,” Sabalenka said after the match. “I couldn’t just stop myself and kind of put myself back in the match.”

Badosa will next play Sakkari in the round-robin competition with the winner likely to secure their place in the last four of the tournament. It will be the first Tour meeting between the two players.

“I think she played a very good match today,” Badosa said. “I think the conditions were OK for her, as well. She felt quite good on court. I expect a tough match.”

Sabalenka will next play Swiatek.

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Interviews

“We Hope to Convince Federer to Play”: the Presentation of the 2022 Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters

Director Zeljko Franulovic talked about next year’s tournament, scheduled from April 9-17

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Stefanos Tsitsipas - ATP Montecarlo 2021 (ph. Agence Carte Blanche / Réalis)

The 2022 Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters will take place from April 9-17, so it’s difficult to guess what the pandemic situation will be in six months. At the moment, however, the prevalent hypothesis is that all spectators will need a Covid Pass or to bring proof of a negative test before being allowed in the Montecarlo Country Club at Roquebrune, France. If some players will refuse the vaccine, then they will need to be tested regularly in accordance to the rules devised by the French government.

 

Other than that, there will be no surprises when it comes to the event’s logistics, since the Country Club has already added a new players lounge and a new press room in the past few years. In 2020 the tournament was cancelled, while in 2021 it took place behind closed doors (while still being televised in 113 countries); the last edition staged with a crowd, in 2019, sold 130,000 tickets, constituting 30% of the total revenue – another 30% came from the sponsors, 30% from media rights (a number that tournament director Zeljko Franulovic hopes to see increase) and 10% from merchandising.

While it’s early days to know whether the tournament will operate at full capacity, Franulovic has made it clear that the organisers are already planning to provide a better covering for the No.2 Court, whose roof has not been at all effective in the past in the event of rain.

The tournament’s tickets can be bought on the official website of the event, but Franulovic has already vowed to reimburse immediately every ticket “if the government and the health authorities should decide to reduce the tournament’s capacity.”

Ticket prices have increased by 2 to 3 percent as compared to 2019, ranging from £25-50 for the qualifiers weekend, £32-75 for the opening rounds, £…-130 for the quarterfinals and semifinals, £65-150 for the final, £360-1250 for a nine-day tickets. Franulovic claims that the prices are in line with those of the other Masters 1000 tournaments.

Finally, Franulovic supports Andrea Gaudenzi’s decision to create a fixed prize money for the next decade. While tournaments like Madrid and Rome are trying to increase their duration from 8 to 12 days, the Monte-Carlo director has claimed that he prefers to remain a week-long event, especially because his is not a combined tournament. As for the players who will feature, Franulovic hopes to convince Roger Federer to participate: “I’m certain that he will give everything he has to be able to stage another comeback on the tour, ma no one knows where he’ll play. However, I think that on the clay he should opt for best-of-three events like Monte-Carlo and Rome rather than the French Open.”

For this and more information, you can watch the video above.

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Editorial

EXCLUSIVE: How The ATP Plans To Make The Tour More Welcoming For LGBT Players

The governing body of men’s tennis has received praise for taking a proactive approach to the topic with the help of a leading LGBTQ+ organisation and a top research university.

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Guido Pella during a Men's Singles match at the 2021 US Open, Wednesday, Sep. 1, 2021 in Flushing, NY. (Manuela Davies/USTA)

During the first week of the US Open, there was an abundance of rainbow-theme flags and wristbands worn by both players and fans to mark the tournament’s first-ever Open Pride Day.

 

The event was part of the USTA’s Diversity and Inclusion strategic platform which aims to make tennis more inclusive. Unlike the women’s game, there are no openly LGBTQ+ players on the men’s Tour and there have been few historically, even though various players have spoken of their support for anybody on the Tour who decides to come out. Including Stefanos Tsitsipas and newly crowned US Open champion Daniil Medvedev, who were questioned about the topic following their second round matches. Meanwhile, Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime revealed that there is an ongoing survey related to LGBTQ+ issues being conducted by the ATP.

“Recently I’ve started doing a survey inside the ATP about the LGBTQ+ community,” he said. “It’s important these days to be aware of that and to be open-minded and the ATP needs to do that, in today’s time it’s needed.

“The reason we don’t have openly gay players on the ATP Tour, I’m not sure of the reason, but I feel me, as a player, it would be very open, very welcome. Statistically, there should be some, but for now there’s not.”

In response to Auger-Aliassime’s comment, UbiTennis looked into the work currently being done by the ATP alongside two other parties. Their decision to venture into LGBTQ+ representation on the Tour is part of their recent commitment to support the mental health and wellbeing of their players and staff. Last year, in May, they formed partnerships with Headspace and Sporting Chance.  

The survey currently being conducted by the ATP started after the governing body of men’s tennis reached out to Lou Englefield, the director of Pride Sports, a UK organisation that focuses on LGBTQ+phobia in sport and aims to improve access to sport for all LGBTQ+ people. Through their connection, they contacted Eric Denison, a behavioural science researcher at Monash University’s School of Social Sciences. Denison was the lead author of the Out on the Fields study, the first international study on homophobia in sport and the largest conducted to date.

“I have been personally impressed with the initiative of the ATP and their desire to find ways to mitigate the broad impact of homophobic behaviour (in particular), not only on gay people, but on all players.” He told UbiTennis during an email exchange.

“We know of no other sporting governing body in the world that has been proactive on LGBTQ+ issues, and has taken a strong focus on engaging with both the LGBTQ+ community and scientists to find solutions.”

Denison says the norm has been for sports bodies to address this issue after they have been either pressured to do so or if the LGBTQ+ community got the ball rolling themselves. Incredibly, research conducted as part of the Out On The Fields initiative documented 30 separate studies which found sports organisations ignored discrimination experienced by LGBTQ+ people in sport.

Monash University has supplied the ATP with a series of scientifically validated questions, which they are using to ‘look under the hood’ at the factors which supports a culture where gay or bisexual players feel they are not welcome. The methodology is similar to a study Denison conducted in 2020 that focused specifically on the team sports rugby union and ice hockey.  

“We suspect that tennis isn’t inherently more homophobic than other sports, or traditionally male settings. Instead, there is a disconnect between people’s attitudes towards gay people (e.g. the recent pro-gay comments by top players) and their behaviour, specifically their use of homophobic banter and jokes,” said Denison.

“This behaviour, which is largely habitual, creates a hostile climate for young gay/bi people who drop out or hide their sexuality. This means gay/bi players are invisible in youth tennis and leads to the downstream problem of no professionals. The banter/jokes continue because people think it is harmless.”

The hope is that players will also agree to be interviewed by the researchers for them to get a better understanding. All of the results will then be used by Pride Sports and Monash University to recommend evidence-based solutions. It is unclear as to how long the study will take or when the findings will be ready. 

Former top 100 player Brian Vahaly is one of the few players to have been both openly gay and played at the highest level of the men’s game. However, he didn’t fully come to terms with his sexuality until after retiring from the sport at age 27. Speaking to UbiTennis earlier this year, Vahaly shed light on the potential barriers for gay players.

There were a lot of homophobic jokes made on Tour. It’s a very masculine and competitive environment,” he said. “You don’t see a lot of gay representation, except for the women’s Tour. With me not having the personality of an outspoken advocate (for LGBTQ+ issues), certainly not in my twenties, I needed some time to understand myself. To me, in tennis I didn’t feel like there was anybody to talk to or anybody that was going through anything similar.”

The ATP has spoken with Vahaly about their initiative and he has become ‘quite involved.’ Through their discussions, he got acquainted with Denison for the first time. As a professional, Vahaly peaked at a ranking high of 64th in the world and won five Challenger titles. After retiring from the Tour, he has served on the USTA’s board of directors since 2013. 

“I am happy to hear that the ATP is finally taking action to address this issue.  I’m impressed they are taking a thoughtful, data-driven approach to make a meaningful difference here,” he told UbiTennis. 

The ATP aims to make the men’s Tour more welcoming to potential LGTBQ+ athletes playing either now or in the future. For those who question if such an initiative is important in 2021, you only have to look at the younger demographic.

Sportsnet quoted CDC data from 2019 which showed that 26% of American LGBTQ+ teenagers aged 16 or 17 has contemplated suicide, five times more than those who identify as straight (5%). Among those teenagers who heard homophobic terms, 33% self-harmed and an additional 40% considered doing so.

More than 2000 players around the world currently have an ATP ranking.

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