July 19, 2024

Open Court

MORE TENNIS THAN YOU'LL EVER NEED

In search of confidence, Eugenie Bouchard will play down

After first-round losses in her last four tournaments – Acapulco, Indian Wells, Miami and Monterrey – former world No. 5 Genie Bouchard is looking for matches, and confidence.

To that end, she has taken a wild card into the $80,000 ITF tournament in Indian Harbour Beach, Fla. next week.

The tournament announced it on its Facebook page this afternoon.

It’s a big bonus for the event which, like many tournaments at its level and especially in North America, doesn’t exactly turn them away at the turnstiles. For Bouchard, who joked after her first-round loss at Indian Wells that she might well look for an ITF tournament to play while waiting two weeks for Miami, it’s a gutsy call.

Clearly someone was reading my Twitter feed, as I posted this a day ago 🙂

This will be the smallest event Bouchard has played in nearly four years. She lost in the second round to American Irina Falconi at a $75,000 grass-court event in Birmingham, just before Wimbledon in 2013. She was 19 then, and just starting her pro career.

She declined to play for Canada in its Fed Cup tie against Kazakhstan April 22-23, to focus on clay play for the upcoming European swing.

There’s risk, but also reward

The field for the event is decent. In addition to wild cards already attributed to the returning Victoria Duval and Ajla Tomljanovic (who defeated Bouchard in the first round in Acapulco), the field also includes Taylor Townsend, Marina Erakovic and the player who beat Bouchard at the Rogers Cup in Montreal last summer, Kristina Kucova. It also includes Alla Kudryavtseva, who defeated Bouchard at the WTA event in Quebec City, Canada last September.

So, lots of ghosts in the field. And there is a risk; Bouchard has tended during her long period of struggle to play better against better players and lose to opponents ranked well below her. Losing in an ITF tournament would be a tough blow.

On the other hand, Bouchard’s confidence is at a pretty low ebb anyway, so there’s really no other direction but up at this point.

On the plus side, the tournament is played on Har-Tru, the American version of clay. So rather than spend the week practicing on it in preparation for the European clay-court season, the 23-year-old Canadian can get right to match play.

Hopefully more than one match.

For local fans, it’s a great deal. The first five days of the tournament are free of charge; tickets are sold only for the final three days over the weekend.

Meanwhile, there was news on the other side of the Bouchard ledger Friday as the lawyer representing her in her lawsuit against the USTA went on the offensive.

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