Perhaps the disastrous early exit at the Mallorca Open last week was a blessing in disguise for Genie Bouchard, even if it didn’t seem so at the time.
The Canadian remained in sunny Mallorca, where the weather was far more dependable than it has been at the other rain-soaked grass-court event venues, and continued to practice. Coach Nick Saviano, who had not planned to come to Europe until this week in Eastbourne, ended up flying over a week early and those extra days of work put in on the surface seem to have paid immediate dividends.
“I did a lot of practice sets with girls, and I have been hitting with girls as much as possible. I feel like that’s very important for me to simulate a match situation on the practice court,” Bouchard told the media in Eastbourne after a second consecutive routine victory.
After defeating American Varvara Lepchenko 6-2, 6-1, she rolled over No. 15 seed Irina-Camelia Begu 6-3, 6-1 Tuesday to advance to a third-round encounter with top seed Agnieszka Radwanska Wednesday.
“I hit with Daniela (Hantuchova), like, three times in Mallorca. We are official practice partners now. We told each other we have to practice with each other every week,” she said. “Who else did I hit with? I hit with Sara Errani the other day. Tara Moore.”
Bouchard said that she felt she was playing well and, more importantly, was very focused as she tried to push it a little more, with Wimbledon fast approaching.
The loss also had another silver lining.
“Even in the past couple of weeks I had results that I wasn’t satisfied with, so coming into this week I really kind of kicked myself in the butt, and, you know, told myself to go after it … and not have any regrets,” she said. “I live an amazing life, so I just kind of want to make the most of it, and then, yeah, I don’t want to look back and have regrets. So I really want to go for it.”
The grass and Bouchard have always had a symbiotic relationship, as the first-strike style of tennis meshes well with the Canadian’s on-court mindset. By far the best results of her career have come during the short grass-court season with the junior title in 2012 and the run to the women’s singles final two years later.
That’s what made the first-round loss at Wimbledon to obscure Chinese player Ying-Ying Duan such a shocker last year, although most of Bouchard’s defeats in 2015 had very little to do with her tennis and everything to do with her head space.
“I think I always loved it. I only first played it ever when I was probably 15, you know, playing my first Junior Wimbledon. But I grew up on indoor hard court up in Canada where it’s cold. It’s very similar and suits my game style. But it also requires a bit of mental discipline because anything can happen kind of thing, and serving and holding is very important,” she said.
“I think I try to focus more on serve or return in the first shot. I think that that’s even more important to try to get ahead in the point as soon as possible, because obviously the points are shorter on grass. So it’s kind of like, yeah, go big or go home type of thing,” she added.
(P.S., that’s some SERIOUS practice-court gear for Bouchard, as she warmed up for her match this morning. Pics: Gareth Fuller – STRPA/via Canadian Press)