Bouchard exits Roland Garros, acknowledges “low point”
Feature photo by Peter Figura via Tennis Canada
Canadian tennis star Eugenie Bouchard is having a tough time and is looking for a way to get out of the rut.
“I think it’s hard to not try to think about what’s going on when it’s not going well,” Bouchard told the gathered media at Roland Garros after her opening round French Open exit on Tuesday. The 6-4, 6-4 loss to Kristina Mladenovic was the first time Bouchard ever exited a Grand Slam at this stage.
“I do think when I’m playing my best tennis is when I’m being more instinctive, and I think that’s something I need to get back, just trusting myself because I know I can play well.”
Bouchard is a noticeably different player in 2015 than she was last year when she reached three grand slam semifinals, including the French Open. Her competitiveness and opportunistic play of 2014 has been replaced by increasingly visible frustration and a plethora of mistakes this year.
“About today, I mean honestly I don’t know what to say. It’s been kind of the same as how I’ve been feeling recently on the court, just not like myself.”
Without knowing great details about the Bouchard camp, which is not often accessible to the media, the only major structural change this season seems to be new coach Sam Sumyk, hired around February.
Sumyk is no stranger to success. He coached Victoria Azarenka to world number one before injuries destroyed her 2014 season and they split in January. His work with Bouchard so far hasn’t yielded success, though the Canadian isn’t giving up.
“Practice has generally been better. I’ve just been kind of waiting for it to click on the match court as well,” she said when asked if her struggles are related to preparation.
Bouchard’s service game has virtually disappeared in recent months. On Tuesday, she gave Mladenovic 10 break point opportunities. The French player converted five of them. In her previous match against Carla Suarez Navarro in Rome, Bouchard lost eight break points. Although she broke the Spaniard seven times in return, this is hardly an efficient way to go about things.
“I feel like I’m trying to work on what’s been going wrong. I feel like I have been making progress, so to have matches like this is extra disappointing,” Bouchard said of her loss to Mladenovic.
“At this point I had no expectations coming in and I have no expectations for the foreseeable future. I’m just going to take it one day at a time and try to slowly work my way back up.”
Whatever it is that’s causing Bouchard to display such disarray, she hardly seems to have the ruthlessness of the past that made for quick business on the court and an equally combative presence in the press room.
At one point this season Bouchard had lost six singles matches in a row. Her confident nature has been rapidly replaced by someone looking increasingly perplexed, fatigued and out of answers. It’s hard to tell if something has changed behind the scenes, but this is not the Bouchard who shot up 139 ranking spots in two seasons from the start of 2013 to when she peaked at no. 5 last year.
In any case, nobody will accuse her of ignoring her current predicament. Bouchard knows she has work to do.
“Everyone has highs and lows in their career. This is a little bit of a low point for me.”
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