September 26, 2023

Open Court


Genie Bouchard’s struggles continue at French Open

PARIS – Sometime in the future, if and when Genie Bouchard turns her career around, she may look back at this French Open as the moment she had nowhere to go but up.

The 24-year-old Canadian exited Roland Garros in the first round of qualifying Wednesday, down 0-6, 1-2 to Dalila Jakupovic of Slovenia when she pulled the ripcord.

Bouchard had suffered an abdominal strain two weeks ago, during warmup for her first match at the $100,000 ITF-level tournament in Cagnes-sur-Mer, France.

She pulled out of that event, and hadn’t played since.

Bouchard had a patch over the abdominal, visible when her long-sleeved top flared up as she played. But she didn’t appear to be in visible pain. She didn’t grimace, or pull up – which doesn’t mean it didn’t hurt, or that it wasn’t a legitimate injury that just didn’t have enough time to heal up.

Bouchard was hitting the ball fine, moving pretty well it seemed. And if there was a slight decrease in velocity on her serve, it wasn’t significant.

But at this point, it’s really no longer about the groundstrokes.

Bouchard spent some time training at the Mouratoglou Academy as she waited for the French Open to start. And she seemed in good spirits; there was no visible patch, and there were videos posted of her hitting.

But practice isn’t playing. The tension that has led to the recurring abdominal injury flaring up on Bouchard in the past will escalate in a match situation.

There was no drama Wednesday. No racquet throwing, no despair. There was only … resignation.

Small entourage

There was no coach in Bouchard’s player’s box for this match. No hitting partner, as Robbye Poole is not in Paris (and, indeed, seems out of the picture).

Bouchard’s mother Julie also wasn’t on hand, or any other family members.

Her only supporters were physical trainer Scott Byrnes and Canadian Fed Cup captain Sylvain Bruneau.

It’s a far cry from those heady days when she had a full team working with her. And the lack of stability – or even personnel, period – on that end is not helping her cause much these days.

No clay-court tennis in 2018

Bouchard last set foot on the red clay nearly a year ago, when she lost to Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia, 6-3, 6-0, in the second round of the main draw.

Bouchard’s strained abdominal was patched up for her match on Thursday. But after a set and a bit, and a visit from the trainer, she called it a day. (Stephanie Myles/Tennis.Life)

She had health issues that day, as well. Bouchard had sprained her ankle pretty badly the previous week, in practice for the warmup event in Nürnberg. And while she got through her first match against Risa Ozaki in three sets, that was all she had.

This year, she entered four smaller tournaments on the dirt that she didn’t end up playing.

The first was in Bogotá, Colombia in April. But Bouchard chose to remain in California working with groundstroke guru Robert Lansdorp.

After her impressive wins in Fed Cup in the indoor hard court in Montreal, Bouchard was to play another small clay-court event in Rabat, Morocco.

She withdrew from that one as well, and went back to California – and Lansdorp – before making the trip to the south of France for the ITF.

She didn’t play there. And then she withdrew from a similar event in Trnava, Slovakia the following week.

So there was no reason to expect a lot more, other than she had been impressive during the Fed Cup week. But that was a month ago, and Bouchard hadn’t played a tournament match since then.

Ranking a’tumbling

The drop to this week’s No. 167 was jarring enough for the former world No. 5.

But when the ranking points from last year’s French Open drop off in a little over two weeks, it’s going to be worse.

She’ll drop 70 points, about 20 per cent of her current total of 351 ranking points. And while it’s hard to say exactly where she’ll end up, she’ll be right on the borderline in terms of dropping out of the … top 200.

That’s a shocking number – no doubt more shocking to Bouchard herself than anyone else.

But the numbers don’t lie.


Bouchard has played just seven tournaments this season. This was her first appearance on court in a match since she lost in the first round of Charleston to Sara Errani the first week of April.

She has a total of three main-draw wins, and the last came more than 3 1/2 months ago.

Bouchard defeated No. 85 Océane Dodin of France in the first round of the Australian Open.

In Taipei the week after the end of the first Grand Slam of the season, she posted wins over No. 116 Lin Zhu of China (who retired early in the third set) and No. 89 Ana Bogdan of Romania.

That’s it.

Officially, she’s 4-7 on the season, including a first-round win over American Allie Kiick in the first round of qualifying in Miami.

Grass-court season next month


This is the first time Bouchard won’t be in the main draw of a Grand Slam tournament in five years, since the 2013 French Open.

The only other time she had even played qualifying at a Grand Slam was the first time she played a Grand Slam, at the 2013 Australian Open. She lost in the second round to Daria Gavrilova there.

Even with her recent early exits, it still likely is going to feel like an eternity until she can get back onto the match court again.

And even then, where she will play next is somewhat unclear.

She’s entered in the lower-level $125K WTA event on clay in Bol, Croatia the second week of the French Open. But she’s still nine spots out of the main draw.

Bouchard is then signed on for the qualifying at ‘s-Hertogenbosch the week of June 11 and Birmingham the week of June 18. But she has virtually no chance of making the Birmingham qualifying cut, with an entry ranking of No. 167.

There is a $100,000 ITF in Ilkley, Great Britain that same week. Bouchard has not yet entered that one, but the deadline isn’t for another week.

There also is a $100,000 grass-court tournament in Surbiton, the second week of the French Open. But Bouchard didn’t enter that either although she could request a wild card, the way she did at Cagnes-sur-Mer. That, of course, is assuming she wants to get off the clay (in Croatia) and onto the grass.

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