Bouchard & Peliwo's SW19 Breakthrough
Published July 13, 2012 12:00
LONDON, England - Just like London buses, you wait a while then two come at the same time. It was an historic week for Canada at Wimbledon: no Canadian had ever won a Grand Slam junior title in singles, and all of a sudden Eugenie Bouchard and Filip Peliwo made the simultaneous breakthrough.
Bouchard, an 18-year-old Québécoise, was the first to rewrite history. Seeded No.5, she upset No.3-seeded Ukrainian Elina Svitolina in the girls' final on Saturday, 62 62, completing a near-flawless run - she only lost one set all week, against German Antonia Lottner in the quarterfinals, and barely had any trouble after losing the first set in that one anyway - she won, 46 60 62.
"When I walked on court for the final I was surprised at how full it was. When they clapped it was much louder than I expected, as well - I was like, 'Oh my God. This is bigger than I thought,'" Bouchard said. "It's really cool having a big crowd like that. It's so fun to play in front of so many people. But I was calm - I blocked it out. I didn't look around because I had a job to do. I focused on that.
"I'm really happy to have pulled through here and I guess make Canada proud. And hopefully I can continue with more success like this."
Bouchard was 10 years old when she first took major notice of Wimbledon. "I always watched the matches," she reminisced. "I remember when Sharapova won the title when she was 17. I think that's when I thought Wimbledon was really cool. It's one of the Slams, so it's definitely the biggest tournament."
And there's someone in Bouchard's circle who burst into prominence at SW19 when she was just four - Nathalie Tauziat, who was the 1998 Wimbledon finalist and a former World No.3, is the young Canadian's part-time coach.
"I started working with Nathalie last year at Wimbledon, actually," Bouchard said. "I just work with her a certain amount of weeks a year - when we train, she comes to Montréal. Then I go to tournaments with her sometimes, as well.
"It's good to work with her because she's been there. She knows what I'm going through; she helps mentally with that. She got to the finals of Wimbledon - so now I can say, 'I did better than you. I won.' She doesn't like that!
"But especially at Wimbledon, it was really good to have her here."
A day later, British Columbia's Peliwo - also 18 years old - won the boys' title, upsetting top-seeded Australian Luke Saville in the final, 75 64.
"I wouldn't say I was jealous of her, but Eugénie winning made me even more hungry," Peliwo said afterwards. "I wanted to have the same feeling for myself and for Canada, to win the Slam. I knew it would be a great achievement if both girls' and boys' champions were Canadian. That really inspired me.
"It's just the program we've got in Canada paying off. It obviously won't come as soon as they start the program - it takes a few years to develop the players - but the base we've got there is great at the moment. We're all working very hard.
"You never really know why it happened at a certain moment, but I'm just happy that me and Genie got the chances to play the finals and win."
Peliwo had saved five match points just to win his semifinal match.