Bouchard bows out to powerful Sharapova at Australian Open

Despite showing signs of recovery from an early deficit, Eugenie Bouchard couldn’t overcome a confident Maria Sharapova in their Australian Open quarterfinal match on Monday in Melbourne.

Canada’s Bouchard lost to the Russian superstar 6-3, 6-2, falling one step shy of her semifinal placing a year ago. The 20-year old had been dominant throughout the tournament, but struggled with her return game in her final two matches, which is almost always unforgivable against Sharapova.

“I felt under pressure the whole time, a bit on my back foot,” Bouchard said following the contest. “That’s not how I want to play. I feel like I didn’t start well, and it kind of all went downhill from there.

The match began with a service break for Sharapova, forcing Bouchard to chase from the opening game. It was soon 2-0 for the Russian after she held serve. Bouchard’s recovery started in earnest in the third game as she adjusted to the power of Sharapova’s returns. Nonetheless, the Russian was able to break Bouchard one more time to win the opening set 6-3.

Bouchard (left) with Sharapova before the match. (Photo: Australian Open)

Bouchard (left) with Sharapova before the match. (Photo: Australian Open)

“(Sharapova) definitely played well today and she didn’t give me many chances,” Bouchard recalled. “I know I could have done better, for sure. I’m disappointed with not taking the few chances I got here and there.”

The players traded service games in the second set before Sharapova won another break point and consolidated for a big 4-1 lead. Bouchard tried to take advantage of a few looks but the world number two was having none of it, closing out the match with as much power and determination she possessed in the opening minutes of the contest.

Next up for Bouchard may be the Fed Cup in Québec City, where Canadian women’s tennis for the first time, will compete against the elite eight nations in the sport in a tournament that spans the year. Canada’s opponent in the first round is Slovakia. Bouchard said she would make her decision whether to take part in coming days as she must balance tour demands with national ambition.