Bouchard buoyed by Olympic Opening Ceremony, keeps winning in Rio

If Eugenie Bouchard looked extra focused in her matches this weekend, there’s a reason—she was still riding the high of attending the Opening Ceremony.

Bouchard defeated Sloane Stephens 6-3, 6-3 in her Olympic debut on Saturday, less than 24 hours after marching into the Maracana Stadium with her fellow Canadian athletes.

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Eugenie Bouchard, Rio 2016. August 6, 2016. COC Photo/Jason Ransom

Eugenie Bouchard, Rio 2016. August 6, 2016. COC Photo/Jason Ransom

“(The Opening Ceremony) was something I could not miss,” Bouchard said after her singles opener. “If anything, it motivated me for today.”

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The 22-year-old is one of the most well known members of Team Canada, having shot to stardom in 2014 when she reached the singles final at Wimbledon, the first Canadian player to have ever done so.

But for all the great moments she’s had on the WTA Tour, the chance to be part of the Opening Ceremony was something entirely unique.

Genie Bouchard at Rio 2016 first round, women's singles (Jason Ransom/COC).

Genie Bouchard at Rio 2016 first round, women’s singles (Jason Ransom/COC).

“Entering that stadium, both hands up, waving, smiling, I just had an out-of-body experience knowing that I was going to remember this forever,” she said. “It just made me so proud and happy. I’m on a cloud now.”

That translated into a solid win over Stephens the following day. Bouchard was pleased with her ability to stay “in the moment”, something she said every athlete struggles to do at times.

“I was there on every one of the return games, I was close to breaking a couple of times,” she said. “I’m happy that I was just very mentally focused,” she said.

That momentum carried over into her first-round doubles match on Sunday, when Bouchard and partner Gaby Dabrowski defeated Klaudia Jans-Ignacik and Paula Kania of Poland in three sets (6-4, 5-7, 6-3).

She’ll be hoping to keep the positivity flowing for a massive couple of days coming up. She’ll not only be in singles action in a difficult match against No. 2-ranked Angelique Kerber of Germany on Monday, but she and Dabrowski will clash with the Czech duo of Lucie Safarova and Barbora Strycova – who upset Venus and Serena Williams of the USA on Sunday – either Monday or Tuesday.