October 23, 2020

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A strong week of practice preps Genie Bouchard for a shot at the second week

Bouchard

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ROLAND GARROS – After Genie Bouchard got word that she was going to get a main-draw wild card into Roland Garros, she headed straight to Paris in the wake of reaching the final at the International-level tournament in Istanbul.

The earlybirds get the … good courts at Stade Roland Garros.

And so the 26-year-old Canadian got time on Court Philippe-Chatrier, on Simonne-Mathieu (with Venus Williams) and around the complex, with other sessions at the annex courts and the Jean-Bouin practice facility.

Even if the weather in Paris was balmy and warm the week before the tournament, the Canadian still got in solid practice time on the finest clay courts on the planet.

All-Canadian hit with Fernandez

Among those she practiced with were her younger Fed Cup teammate, Leylah Annie Fernandez.

Here’s what that looked like.

(And yes, it wasn’t that long ago that it was sunny and warm in Paris – quite the contrast from the last few days).

Rocking the mustard alligator kit

A few days later, she was on Court 14 with American Kristie Ahn.

For that one, she decided to pull out the mustard alligator PJ ensemble.

Cold and chilly opener

Bouchard’s first-round match took place in rather different conditions.

She might have been better off pulling out the alligator ensemble in the awful weather. That would have created quite a stir and also kept her bundled up.

Bouchard and blonde twinsie Anna Kalinskaya didn’t take the court on Sunday until after 8 p.m. – with wind, cold temperatures and a persistent drizzle coming into play.

It was not pretty – there was not much pretty tennis on that first, miserable day.

But Bouchard was … less error-prone that her Russian opponent.

That’s all you need to do, really, is be slightly better than your opponent in a particular day, even with all the challenges.

She stayed the course, and won her first Grand Slam main-draw match since the 2019 Australian Open.

It is a very good draw to take advantage of as Kalinskaya was ranked exactly No. 100 this week, in her first French Open main draw and down from a career high of No. 72 exactly a year ago.

A shot at the second week

Next up Wednesday was Aussie Daria Gavrilova, who hit the top 20 two years ago but is currently at … No. 788. Gavrilova is the same age as Bouchard – born just a couple of weeks later in 1994.

Into the main draw on a protected ranking, the 26-year-old Aussie made the third round in Paris in 2018.

But she lost in the first round of all four Grand Slam tournaments in 2019.

Gavrilova hadn’t played in over a year (since the 2019 US Open) when she returned at a $80,000 ITF in Cagnes-sur-Mer, France a few weeks ago.

Plantar fascitis and Achilles tendonitis are a rough go for a player who depends on her speed and energy on court.

Out of the qualifying, Gavrilova reached the quarterfinals in Cagnes-sur-Mer. And she shocked Dayana Yastremska in straight sets in the first round of the Roland Garros main draw.

Bouchard got through Gavrilova 5-7, 6-4, 6-3.

She will play the unseeded but very promising Iga Swiatek to get to the second week.

It’s all about seizing the opportunities when they arise.

This is a really good one.