Francesca Schiavone produced a clay court masterclass to knock out Eugenie Bouchard in the opening round of the Internazionali BNL d'Italia.
WTA Staff

ROME, Italy - Francesca Schiavone rolled back the years to knock out No.17 seed Eugenie Bouchard in the first round of the Internazionali BNL d'Italia on Monday.

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The Plot
Next month, Schiavone will turn 34, and there have been signs of late that age is finally catching up with her. While her appetite for competing remains as healthy as ever, Schiavone has struggled for wins this year, posting just three and suffering a number of chastening defeats.

The picture at the midpoint of the season looks somewhat rosier for Bouchard, who has shot up the rankings on the back of a succession of deep runs, including on the clay of Charleston and Oeiras.

The Turning Point
Schiavone came out all guns blazing and was rewarded for her positive intent when Bouchard sent a forehand long to hand over a break in the opening game. Over the past decade the Italian has carved out a reputation as one of the game's leading clay court players, and she drew on all this experience to outfox Bouchard time and again from the baseline.

Having withstood some late pressure to take the opener, she upped the ante at the start of the second, unleashing her full repertoire of shots to build another healthy lead. Bouchard, usually so composed, was cutting an increasingly frustrated figure and could find no answer to the puzzle, double faulting to hand over a second break before succumbing, 6-4, 6-2.

By The Numbers
As the scoreline suggests, most facets of Schiavone's game were firing on all cylinders out on Centrale, with her miserly unforced error count - she committed just 11 - underpinning the victory.

What's Next
Schiavone's reward for her clay court masterclass is a meeting with either fellow Italian Nastassja Burnett or Garbiñe Muguruza.