Rising Stars Of 2014: Genie
Published April 14, 2014 12:13
MONTRÉAL, Canada - She ended 2013 on a high - first WTA final in Osaka, No.1 teenager, the WTA's Newcomer Of The Year - but few could have predicted the higher high Eugenie Bouchard achieved Down Under, and for all of that the Canadian is probably the brightest rising star in 2014.
Round by round at the Australian Open, Bouchard was getting better - and if it weren't for an on-fire Li Na in the semifinals, she could have become the first Canadian to reach a Grand Slam final. But the second Canuck to reach a Grand Slam semifinal, after Carling Bassett-Seguso, wasn't too shabby.
Along with that run came her Top 20 debut, and after a quiet month or two Bouchard is starting to come on strong again, most recently reaching her first Premier-level semifinal in Charleston. En route to that result she took out two of the tournament's former champions and former World No.1s - Venus Williams and Jelena Jankovic - before barely falling to the eventual champion, Andrea Petkovic.
"After the Australian Open I definitely had a few tough tournaments, trips, matches - it really made me learn a lot," Bouchard said. "I realized, 'Okay, you'll have highs in life and lows,' but it really made me get back to the practice courts and work really hard. After Indian Wells I worked really hard on the practice court, then had a tough match, and then went right back to the practice courts again.
"I wasn't playing as many matches as I wanted, but I definitely practiced harder, constantly trying to improve, and it's given me confidence. I feel like I'm in a better mental state with everything now."
There's something else - an emotional maturity beyond her years - that's keeping Bouchard going.
"I've learned over the years not to get too high after a win or too low after a loss. It's within a match as well. The point you just played, well it's already in the past. If you miss a shot you want to take what you can to learn from it, whether it's moving your feet more, staying lower, little things, and that's it.
"Sometimes I maybe hold onto things during a match that I probably shouldn't, but I really just try to forget about it and just focus on the next point at hand because that's all you can do, really."
There's another thing Bouchard can do in the next month or two, and that's move up the rankings even more. Currently at her career-high of No.18, the 20-year-old will be playing huge events in Madrid and Rome for the first time next month - and that means she has absolutely zero points to defend there.
"I have quite a few tournaments lined up, some I've never played before, like Madrid and Rome, which I hear are really cool. I'm excited to finally have the ranking to play at these big tournaments."
And while her historic Grand Slam triumph in the juniors came on the opposite kind of surface - the slick grass courts of the All-England Club - Bouchard is actually very happy on the slow red clay.
"I don't hate any of the surfaces. I think I play well on all of them," she said. "Generally I like being an aggressive player, so I don't want to change my game too much from surface to surface, but on clay I can still hang in the points and work on defense and things like that. That'll help me a lot.
"It's kind of a big season coming up, which I'm really excited for."