February 29, 2024

Open Court

MORE TENNIS THAN YOU'LL EVER NEED

After a good day, a bad day for Bouchard

Genie Bouchard did many good things on the tennis court Thursday in Taiwan.

On Friday, faced with an opponent outside the top 150 and a great opportunity to reach the semifinal of a WTA Tour event for the first time since Sydney a year ago, the weight of expectation kicked in – again.

That’s a familiar storyline with Bouchard the last few years, perhaps the biggest reason among many that she has struggled to post consistent results.

The 23-year-old Canadian put up a stinker of a performance against the surprisingly impressive Yafan Wang of China.

The 6-4, 6-0 loss, it seems, will allow her to make her Super Bowl date in Minneapolis on time.

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As intense and focused as Bouchard looked Thursday against Ana Bogdan, she was tense and agitated Friday against Wang. (WTATV.com)

Those expectations – none heavier than her own – were in evidence from the start.

The biggest standout from Bouchard’s victory over Ana Bodgan in the second round was that her feet never stopped moving.

Not only did she run everything down, she put herself in better positions defensively. And that paid dividends, cumulatively, by the end of the match.

On Friday, the feet were frozen. Solid. She was taking shortcuts with her footwork. And when Bouchard does that, the errors start flying off her racket.

She had eight winners against Wang. And she made 26 unforced errors.

After breaking Wang when the 23-year-old Chinese player served for the first set at 5-3, she dropped her own serve at love to give up the first set. And she didn’t win another game after that.

Nervous, tight performance

At times, during the second set, she played as though she had a plane to catch. 

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Coach/hitting partner Robbye Poole could only sit and watch, as Bouchard never called on him during Friday’s defeat. (WTATV.com)

Bouchard never called out coach/hitting partner Robbye Poole, who had been full of positivity and sound tactical and technical advice in her first two victories.

She smacked her racket on the court at one point, the way she had often done a year or two ago even if she’s done a better job of keeping her cool in recent months.

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Wang put together an impressive all-court performance in defeating Bouchard 6-4, 6-0 to reach the Taiwan Open semis. (WTATV.com)

Bouchard may well show up as planned, laughing and having a great time and posing for photos and looking as though she doesn’t have a care in the world, at the Super Bowl in Minneapolis on Sunday with her infamous Twitter date.

With her elimination Friday, she now will have time to travel there.

And if that happens Internet will make great hay in light of her effort on Friday. The optics will not be great.

It will be a three-day period that will highlight the best and worse of Bouchard’s on- and off-court life during her three-year slump.

Not much tennis coming up

After that, the Canadian will several more weeks without any competitive tennis on the docket.

Bouchard eschewed her country’s Fed Cup tie in Romania next weekend for an exhibition match next Sunday. against American Sloane Stephens, that will kick off the New York Open ATP Tour event.

And then – barring a last-minute settlement, which still seems a possibility – she will make her next court appearance (pardon the pun) in New York City.

Her lawsuit against the USTA, filed in Oct. 2015 in the wake of the locker-room accident that left her with a concussion, finally goes to trial.

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Bouchard leaves Taiwan with her first back-to-back wins in nine months and a slight bump in the rankings, but she left so much more on the table. (WTATV.com)

If it wraps up in time, Bouchard is entered in $125K Oracle Challenger Series event the week before the BNP Paribas Open (the week of Feb. 26). That tournament also will be held at the Indian Wells venue.

With her current ranking, Bouchard will have to qualify at the Indian Wells main event, something she has not done there since her first appearance back in 2013 (she lost to Elina Svitolina in the first qualifying round). 

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