Whenever Genie Bouchard has gathered a little momentum for another shot at returning to the top levels of the game, it seems something always comes along to stop it in its tracks.
The 27-year-old Canadian had an impressive two weeks in reaching the doubles final in Lyon, France. Then she jetted halfway around the world and found the reserves to make the singles final in Guadalajara, Mexico.
Bouchard didn’t come away with the title. Instead, Sara Sorribes Tormo of Spain won her first career WTA title with a mix of guile and variety, frustrating the Canadian at the end of a long fortnight.
But there was an opportunity to make an even bigger dent in the rankings, after Bouchard had risen to No. 116 by making the Guadalajara final. With that result, she earned a special-exempt spot in the main draw in Monterrey.
After a couple of days off, Bouchard led 5-2 in the first set against Zhu Lin of China in the first round.
She lost five straight games and the first set. Then, a medical timeout during which Bouchard described feeling dizzy. And despite battling hard through the discomfort, Zhu won the match 7-5, 7-6 (3).
No Miami, no Bogota
But now, the immediate future is uncertain.
Bouchard has withdrawn from several tournaments in the coming weeks.
The Canadian had been entered into an entry-level $25,000 ITF on clay in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
(Not that anyone seriously thought she would make that date; her struggles at the ITF level have been well-chronicled).
But a few weeks ago, Bouchard was too far down the list of alternates for the Miami Open qualifying to consider it a realistic alternative. And given the dearth of alternative playing opportunities on the WTA Tour these days, it was the only option.
The plan was to then go on to play the WTA 250 event in Bogota, Colombia.
None of that will happen.
Next into qualies, a withdrawal
As of Friday, Bouchard was next into the qualifying in Miami, after a number of players withdrew and she crept right up the alternates list.
But she has withdrawn.
The Canadian also withdrew from the Bogotá tournament the week of April 5. Strangely, she had not entered the qualifying – only the main draw. But she was a few spots out of making it, with plenty of time left.
Bouchard didn’t enter the 500-level tournament in Charleston at all, even though she would easily have been into the qualifying draw.
She also has withdrawn from the main draw entry list at the WTA 250, also held in Charleston the week of April 12.
Bouchard remains on the list for the qualifying. But the deadline for that isn’t until next Monday.
As well, we’re told that the Canadian has declined an invitation to represent her country in the Billie Jean King Cup playoff tie in Serbia April 16-17.
Consequences for Roland Garros
The deadline to enter Roland Garros (at least for the men – we presume the women will be the same) will be April 12, right after end of Charleston and Bogotá
That also is, according to the WTA documents to that effect that Open Court has seen, a week after the Tour will unfreeze the rankings and return to the regular method.
(That, of course, is always subject to change).
Since Bouchard now has no plans to play before then, there is little chance she can avoid the qualifying in Paris. It’s unlikely yet another wild card will be forthcoming, as it was a year ago.
Points starting to drop April 5
And, because Roland Garros and Istanbul – where she went from the qualifying to the final last September – have returned to their regular time slots, it’s likely that those points will drop far sooner than the regular 52 weeks.
(We’ve reached out to the WTA for confirmation on how they will handle those tournaments; that is how the ATP plans to do it for all the fall 2020 tournaments, including Rome).
Even with her improved ranking, Bouchard is a long way from getting straight into Istanbul, for which the entry deadline is Monday.
She has not yet entered the qualifying, where the deadline is a week later, or March 29.
Worst-case scenario: without the points from Roland Garros or Istanbul, her ranking would tumble all the way to about No. 187.
Never a dull moment. We’ll see what the next move is.