Genie Bouchard looking to find herself - UBITENNIS
Connect with us

Hot Topics

Genie Bouchard looking to find herself

Published

on

Eugenie Bouchard (image via sportingnews.com)

Sometimes it is difficult to understand how things happens, what takes you to the top and what, instead, brings you down. You’re always the same person, you do the same old things, it’s the same you who were able to be among the best in your field and yet suddenly results stop to come. What has changed? What is going wrong?

 

These must be the questions that have been popping in Eugenie Bouchard’s head during this year in which everything has seemed to go in the wrong direction. After last year’s successes she was expected to have the ultimate breakthrough, competing for Grand Slam titles and giving new life, new fans and new endorsements to WTA. She had both the game and the look to be the new face of women’s tennis, but things are not evolving the way she, and most fans, were expecting. This year has been a free fall for the young Canadian, who managed to win only nine matches in the twenty-six she played. The season had even started on the right track, with the quarter-finals reached at the Australian Open. From then on, however, it was just losses and vague attempts at explaining what was going on, with the comparisons with Maria Sharapova shifting to comparisons with another tall blonde Russian, Anna Kournikova, who had more success in the entertainment world than in tennis.

The problems of Genie don’t have only one root, probably. Game-wise she has a high-risk, spectacular style that is often prone to errors and blackouts. She lacks variety, but that is a common trait of the prototype of the modern player, who has only a plan A: hitting strong. Additionally, after last year’s results, her opponents have started studying and figuring out her game and they know exactly what it takes to put her in a bad position. Looking, for example, at last week’s match against Roberta Vinci, when Bouchard made only one game and couldn’t understand how to respond to all the different variations coming off the Italian’s racquet. It is evident how Bouchard’s game is one based on confidence, and when losses start to accumulate it is difficult to continue believing in how you play. One solution could therefore be studying a plan B, adding variations and adopting a more patient attitude on court.

However, her frequent coach changes are not helping things go in that direction. Since December she has already changed three coaches, first leaving her 8-year guide Nick Saviano and working with Victoria Azarenka’s former-coach, Sam Sumyk. Still, this switch did not help her bring the expected outcomes, and recently she parted ways with Sumyk too. At the Open she’s been hitting with Jimmy Connors, who said he’s more a help than a real full-time coach. These continuous changes are the epitome of what is not working: there is a clear shortage of ideas from her entourage on how to handle her talent. It is not a matter of Bouchard lacking the game, because a girl who makes three consecutive Slam semifinals at 20 cannot suddenly stop knowing how to play. It is a matter of taking the right decisions, and the fault can’t be addressed entirely on the girl.

Then there is the off-court aspect. Her look has granted her popularity and constant attention by the media; she has signed with numerous sponsors, and she’s often host of various TV shows and entertainment events. This has given the impression to many that the priority of Genie is shifting from tennis to something else. Her conduct is not helping either, often assuming a diva-like attitude that could easily irritate fellow tour players and fans. She has often said that she’s not on tour to make friends, and that she has no intention of doing so, and she also refused to shake hands with her Fed Cup opponent from Romania Alexandra Dulgheru, saying that the gesture is “lame”. Lately she even took instance on Nick Kyrgios’ case, sustaining that tennis needs someone “charismatic and energetic” like him. These remarks have brought a part of the media and of fans to seeing her as a brat, as her hacked Wikipedia page shows.
Bouchard Wikipedia page
However, many other stars before her have had their share of hostility from other players and fans, from Hingis to Sharapova, from Capriati to Serena. All of them have then slightly changed their attitudes, becoming more media savvy and experienced, which is exactly what we expect from the Canadian.

This tournament, anyway, seems to have given us back the old Eugenie, the one who managed to climb to number six in the rankings. She has been playing a great, aggressive game, often anticipating the ball and coming to the net more. She will face Roberta Vinci on Sunday, in an attempt at doing better than last week, although yesterday she fell in the locker room, sustaining an head injury that forced her to withdraw from the doubles events.

Whatever the outcome of the match will be, Eugenie seemed to have regained this week that confidence and that calm she was missing. Whether it will be an isolated event or a climb back to the top, it’s up to her to decide.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Focus

Australian Open Day 1 Preview: Five Must-See Matches

Both defending singles champions will begin their title defences on Monday down under.

Published

on

Monday will be a star-studded day in Melbourne, with an astounding 74 Major singles titles represented. Serena Williams, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Naomi Osaka, Ash Barty, and the retiring Caroline Wozniacki will all be in action. But the most talked-about match on Day 1 sees the WTA’s youngest rising star face the WTA’s most senior stateswoman.

 

Coco Gauff vs. Venus Williams

Embed from Getty Images
In a rematch from the first round of Wimbledon six months ago, it’s 39-year-old Venus against 15-year-old Coco Gauff. On that day at The Championships, Gauff pulled off the stunning upset, putting the tennis world on notice and beginning a summer of Cocomania. But the dynamic in this match will be much different, as the young teenager will be the favorite. Since Wimbledon, Gauff has accumulated 13 main draw match wins, including the first title of her career this past October in Linz. Venus is just 5-8 since Wimbledon, and hasn’t played a match in over three months. Coco played two matches in Auckland to start 2020, but looked a bit shaky in her three-set defeat at the hands of Laura Siegemund. I expect Gauff to come out a bit nervous on Monday, with the pressure being firmly on her shoulders in this rematch. And Venus will be eager to avenge the Wimbledon loss, and motivated to move up the rankings as she looks to qualify for a spot on an extremely competitive American women’s Olympic team this summer. Despite her recent lack of match play, I give Venus the slight edge to prevail, and show that her career is not quite done yet.

Serena Williams (8) vs. Anastasia Potapova

Embed from Getty Images

Like her older sister, Serena also faces a young new face that is less than half her age. And in this same round of the last Major, it was the 18-year-old Potapova that pushed Coco Gauff to a third set. While she went down in defeat on that day, many pundits came away fromn that match impressed with her game, and with high expectations for her future. However, standing across the net from the GOAT is a daunting task for an as-of-yet unproven teenager. And it’s been four months since Potapova won a main draw WTA match, while Serena is 5-0 to start the year. This should be a comfortable first round victory for the seven-time Australian Open singles champion.

Novak Djokovic (2) vs. Jan-Lennard Struff

Embed from Getty Images
Speaking of seven-time champions in Melbourne, Djokovic is again the favorite to be the last man standing 13 days from now. But this is one of the toughest first round opponents Novak could have drawn. Struff just missed out on being seeded at this event, coming off the best season of his career. The big-swinging German can outhit almost anyone on tour when he’s on. However, doing that for three full sets against the best defender in the game should prove too much for the 29-year-old. And not only has Djokovic won all five previous sets they’ve played, but Struff is a meek 1-5 in Melbourne. After a full week of rest following his inaugural ATP Cup triumph, a recuperated Djokovic should easily pass this opening round test.

Ash Barty (1) vs. Lesia Tsurenko

Embed from Getty Images
It was a year ago at this tournament when Ash Barty elevated her career to the next level, reaching the quarterfinals of a Slam for the first time. 52 weeks on, she arrives in Melbourne as a definitive world No.1, thanks to big title wins at the Miami Open, Roland Garros and the WTA Finals. And just this past weekend, she was the champion in Adelaide. However, she’s 0-1 against her first round opponent. Tsurenko, a 30-year-old Ukranian, defeated Barty two years ago in Brisbane, and was a quarterfinalist at the 2018 US Open. But Lesia is coming off a six-month layoff due to an elbow injury, and Barty is a much improved player two years later, so this should be a rather straightforward win for the Australian.

Roger Federer (3) vs. Steve Johnson

Embed from Getty Images
With Nadal and Djokovic closer to his tally of 20 Majors than ever before, Federer would love to end his two-year Slam drought during this fortnight. While he was the champion at this event in two of the last three years, he feels like a considerable underdog now that Djokovic is back at the peak of his abilities. This will be Roger’s first competitive match in two months, when he lost to Stefanos Tsitsipas in the semifinals of the ATP Finals. Today he faces a former top 25 player who now finds himself fighting to stay inside the top 100. Johnson went just 14-21 last year, and spent much of the second half of the season on the challenger circuit. Federer has easily claimed both their previous encounters without dropping a set. With little in Johnson’s game that can bother Roger, this should become Federer’s 21st consecutive victory in the first round of the Australian Open.

Other notable matches on Day 1:

  • Defending champion Naomi Osaka (3) vs. Marie Bouzkova, a 21-year-old from the Czech Republic who was a semifinalist last August at the Rogers Cup.
  • ATP Finals champion Stefanos Tsitsipas (7) vs. Salvatore Caruso, a 27-year-old Italian who has never won a match at a hard court Major. Tsitispas was a semifinalist here a year ago, but is 0-3 in his last three matches at Slams.
  • In her last tournament before retirement, 2018 champion Caroline Wozniacki vs. Kristie Ahn, who reached the round of 16 at last year’s US Open.
  • Roberto Bautista Agut (9), who was a quarterfinalist here last year, vs. fellow Spaniard Feliciano Lopez. They’ve split four previous meetings, with Lopez prevailing both times they met on a hard court.
  • Petra Kvitova (7), who reached the final here 12 months ago, vs. fellow Czech Katerina Siniakova. Petra leads their head-to-head 2-0, though they played a tight three-setter last February in Dubai.

Order of play

Rod Laver Arena
N. Osaka (3) versus M. Bouzkova
A. Potapova versus S. Williams (8)
S. Johnson versus R. Federer (3)
A. Barty (1) versus L. Tsurenko
J. Struff versus N. Djokovic (2)

Margaret Court Arena
D. Shapovalov (13) versus M. Fucsovics
K. Siniakova versus P. Kvitova (7)
V. Williams versus C. Gauff
S. Tsitsipas (6) versus S. Caruso
S. Stephens (24) versus S. Zhang

Melbourne Arena
M. Berrettini (8) versus A. Harris (WC)
K. Ahn versus C. Wozniacki
J. Londero versus G. Dimitrov (18)
S. Stosur versus C. McNally (Q)

1573 Arena
S. Querrey versus B. Coric (25)
R. Opelka versus F. Fognini (12)
M. Keys (10) versus D. Kasatkina
J. Konta (12) versus O. Jabeur

Court 3
M. Trevisan (Q) versus S. Kenin (14)
A. Li (Q) versus L. Cabrera (WC)
J. Thompson versus A. Bublik
J. Millman versus U. Humbert

Court 5
J. Goerges versus V. Kuzmova
K. Kanepi versus B. Krejcikova (Q)
M. Cilic versus C. Moutet
P. Kohlschreiber versus M. Giron

Court 7
C. McHale versus P. Martic (13)
J. Sinner versus M. Purcell (Q)
M. Gasparyan versus M. Sakkari (22)
D. Schwartzman (14) versus L. Harris

Court 8
G. Pella (22) versus J. Smith (WC)
A. Riske (18) versus Y. Wang
M. Polmans (WC) versus M. Kukushkin
K. Juvan (Q) versus D. Yastremska (23)

Court 10
M. Safwat (Q) versus G. Barrere
M. Linette versus A. Rus
A. Davidovich Fokina versus N. Gombos (Q)

Court 11
S. Zheng versus A. Kalinskaya (Q)
C. Garin versus S. Travaglia
L. Mayer versus T. Paul

Court 12
R. Carballes Baena versus R. Berankis
T. Zidansek versus N. Han (WC)
M. Brengle versus C. Garcia
T. Ito (WC) versus P. Gunneswaran (LL)

Court 13
V. Golubic versus L. Zhu
F. Lopez versus R. Bautista Agut (9)
P. Andujar versus M. Mmoh (WC)
B. Pera versus E. Rybakina (29)

Court 14
D. Evans (30) versus M. McDonald
T. Sandgren versus M. Trungelliti (Q)
F. Ferro versus A. Van Uytvanck
A. Sasnovich versus G. Minnen (Q)

Court 15
Y. Nishioka versus L. Djere
K. Edmund versus D. Lajovic (24)
Q. Wang (27) versus P. Parmentier (WC)
N. Hibino (Q) versus S. Peng

Court 19
E. Alexandrova (25) versus J. Teichmann
R. Albot versus M. Raonic (32)
H. Hurkacz (31) versus D. Novak (Q)
P. Hercog versus R. Peterson

Court 22
P. Badosa versus J. Larsson (Q)
S. Cirstea versus B. Strycova (32)
Q. Halys (Q) versus F. Krajinovic
B. Paire (21) versus C. Stebe

Continue Reading

Hot Topics

Five Unseeded Players To Watch Out For In The Men’s Draw At The Australian Open

Meet the unseeded players hoping to cause a stir at Melbourne Park.

Published

on

Whilst the limelight will be on the prestigious Big Three at Melbourne Park, there is a group of underdogs in the men’s draw hoping that they can make their mark. 

 

A mixture of former grand slam finalists and rising stars pose a threat to the higher-ranked players in the men’s draw. Last year the best performance by an unseeded male player was Frances Tiafoe, who reached the quarter-finals. 

Here is a look at five underdogs who could pose a threat. 

Kevin Anderson 

A two-time Grand Slam runner-up, South Africa’s Kevin Anderson is still on the comeback from injury. Missing six months of the 2019 season due to a knee problem. He returned to action earlier this month at the ATP Cup, where he managed to take Novak Djokovic to two tiebreakers before losing his opening match. Following that, he scored victories over Benoit Paire and Christian Garin. 

“My biggest ambition is to get back into top-10. My best ranking is top-5, so I would like to get back there.” Anderson told reporters at the ATP Cup.
“But the two biggest goals is I want to win a Masters series. I feel like that’s something that I’m definitely a good enough tennis player to do that. I’ve put myself in good positions but haven’t quite taken that step. And then, obviously, the grand prize in tennis, a Grand Slam.”

The 33-year-old will open up his campaign against Ilya Ivashka. Then further in the draw, he could take on seeds Taylor Fritz and Dominic Thiem in the following two rounds. He is yet to play Fritz but interestingly holds a winning 7-2 head-to-head advantage over Thiem. 

Anderson is making his 13th appearance in Melbourne. His best run was to the fourth round of the tournament three consecutive times between 2013-2015. Last year he lost in the second round to Frances Tiafoe. 

Casper Ruud

Norway’s top player Casper Ruud has been slowly gathering momentum on the tour in recent weeks. At the ATP Cup, the 21-year-old broke new territory by scoring wins over top 20 players John Isner and Fabio Fognini. The first time in his career he has defeated top 20 opposition. 

“It’s great feedback for me to play three very good matches at the beginning of the year,” Ruud commented about his opening tournament. 
“I think this has been a very good start of the year and not practice but a good way to start before Melbourne.” He added. 

Playing in the Australian Open main draw for only the second time in his career, Ruud will start his campaign against world No.98 Egor Gerasimov. Somebody who has only ever won one main draw match at grand slam level. Should he get through his opening match, the Norweigan could play seventh seed Alexander Zverev. Zverev, who is currently trying to find his form on the court, is yet to win a match in 2020 after suffering three losses at the ATP Cup. 

Marin Cilic 

Whilst he has been far from his best in recent months, nobody should ever dismiss the threat posed by somebody as talented as Marin Cilic. Experiencing a rollercoaster 2019 season marred by injury, the former US Open champion now finds himself ranked 39th in the world. Placing him in danger of exiting the world’s top 40 for the first time since October 2013. Nevertheless, the 2018 runner-up in Melbourne is hoping he can return to his best. 

“I love the conditions (in Australia), I love the heat, the dry heat. That’s always been very beneficial for my game, as well. Hopefully, it’s going to turn out well in the Australian Open, too.” He told reporters on January 2nd. 

Cilic is set for a stern test early on at the Australian Open when he played Corentin Moutet in his opening match. Moutet is one of France’s most promising rising stars and recently reached his maiden ATP final in Doha. Also lurking is his section is Benoit Paire and Roberto Bautista Agut. 

Only once has Cilic lost in the first round of the tournament which was in his debut back in 2007. Heading into this year’s tournament, he has won 29 out of 40 matches played at the tournament. 

Jannik Sinner

The Italian sensation is the youngest player in the top 100 at the age of 18 and has already got the attention of many. Being described by John McEnroe as ‘one of the most talented kids in the last 10 years.’ Sinner broke through on the tour last year by winning Challenger titles in America and Italy. Then in November, he claimed the biggest trophy of his career by triumphing at the Next Gen Finals on home soil. 

Unfortunately for Sinner, he is yet to gain momentum in 2020 after losing his opening matches at two consecutive tournaments. In Canberra, he fell to Finnish world No.104 Emil Ruusuvuori. Then he Auckland he was bowed out by Paire. 

“The season, I didn’t start it as I wanted. We didn’t play so many matches before the Australian Open, so it’s not going to be easy for me. But I think we practiced well. Our off-season, we put in a lot of work so I feel great on-court… I felt here we especially tried to practice with the best guys,” Sinner told atptour.com. “Day after day, I feel better on the court, and we will see. The matches are always a little bit different, but hopefully, I can feel better than the first two matches.”

The Next Gen star will play Max Purcell in the first round. 

Ugo Humbert


After a disappointing start to 2020, France’s Ugo Humbert has found his form at the right time. Losing his second match at a challenger tournament in Canberra as the top seed, he then exceeded expectations at the ASB Classic in Auckland. The 21-year-old claimed his maiden ATP title after scoring a trio of high-profile wins. Getting the better of Denis Shapovalov, John Isner and Paire. Three players he had previously lost to. 

“I don’t know if I realize what I did but I am extremely happy,” Humbert commented on winning his maiden title. “It was tough, really tough, and emotional as well. It was a lot of work, a lot of improvement with my coach, in the pre-season and the months before.”

Humbert is currently ranked 57th in the world but did break into the top 50 last July. Besides his triumph in New Zealand, he has also won six Challenger titles since 2018. 

The Australian Open will be only the sixth grand slam main draw the Frenchman has featured in. He will play home favorite John Milman in the first round. Should he make it through to the last 32 in Melbourne, he could play Roger Federer. 

Continue Reading

Hot Topics

Once Again Serena Williams Faces The Burden Of Expectation At Australian Open

The 38-year-old is used to playing under pressure, but can she deliver in Melbourne Park this year?

Published

on

For some the prospect of Serena Williams exiting the upcoming Australian Open without silverware will be nothing short of a disappointment.

 

In recent months it has become somewhat of a grand slam tradition when it comes to the 38-year-old former world No.1. Ahead of each major the question is asked – can she finally equal Margaret Court? The woman who currently holds the record for most grand slam singles titles won in the history of the sport at 24.

This year marks the third anniversary of Williams’ last grand slam triumph. Taking on sister Venus in the title match, she prevailed 6-4, 6-4, in Melbourne. The achievement made her the most decorated major winner in the Open Era and elevated her back to world No.1. Then roughly an hour after her jubilation on court, talk of her matching Court’s record began.

“One thing I learned in the past is you have to enjoy it. That’s the beauty of winning Australia, you have a few months to relax.” She replied.

Unknown to the public at the time, Williams had more than a few months to relax. During her last grand slam triumph, she was pregnant with her first child. Inevitably the American tennis star stepped away from the tour for over a year to spend time with her new family. Then when she returned, it was a case of settling for second best.

In four out of the last six grand slam tournaments, she has featured in the final. However, she succumbed in straight sets during all of them. Falling to Angelique Kerber (Wimbledon 2018), Naomi Osaka (US Open 2018), Simona Halep (Wimbledon 2019) and Bianca Andreescu (2019). The success has been sparse in recent times, but Williams continues to have admiration from her rivals.

“I’m very impressed about her, that she’s keep playing at this level, with being a mother and also being a little bit older than us. It’s impressive what she does.” Halep told reporters in Melbourne on Saturday.

It isn’t all doom and gloom for Williams, who made her Australian Open debut back in 1998. Earlier this month, she won the ASB Classic in Auckland. The first time she has claimed a trophy since becoming a mother 18 months ago. Could this be the breakthrough she needed to finally claim major title No.24?

“I’m feeling good, I’m feeling fit,” Williams said. “I’ve had some good matches – long matches, short matches, rallies, power players, the elements.
“This is exactly what I needed going into Melbourne.

Critics of the former world No.1 have previously said she at times lacked match play heading into the grand slams. In Auckland only one of her five wins in the tournament was over a top 30 player. That was Amanda Anisimova, who was in 25th position at the time. Her other victories were over Jessica Pegula (82), Laura Siegemund (73), Christina McHale (28) and Camila Giorgi (99).

Unlike her rivals, Williams didn’t do a press conference ahead to the Australian Open. Saying she was under no obligation not to. Although she has been training in Melbourne Park.

In her absence, it has been left to her rivals to speculate about her chances. Something Ash Barty, who will be the top seed in Melbourne, quickly distanced herself from.

“I think there are 128 players on the men’s side and there are 128 players on the women’s side that can win the tournament,” Barty commented on Williams’ chances. “I don’t think you can count anyone out. Everyone in this draw is deserving of their spot, has earned their right to be here.”

Williams will be seeded eighth this year at the Australian Open. In her opening match, she will take on Russia’s Anastasia Potapova. Should she progress through the first week, she will play nobody ranked higher than Johanna Konta (12) in the opening four rounds. Then Williams may have to score back-to-back wins over Naomi Osaka and Barty to even reach the final.

Projected route

  • First round: Anastasia Potapova
  • Second round: Tamara Zidansek
  • Third round: Qiang Wang [27]
  • Fourth round: Jo Konta [12]
  • QF: Naomi Osaka [3]
  • SF: Ash Barty [1]
  • F: Karolina Pliskova [2] / Simona Halep [4] / Elina Svitolina [5] / Aryna Sabalenka [11]

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending