AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Former World No.5 Eugenie Bouchard touched down in Auckland on Christmas Day, and she’s determined to get a head start on her 2019 season which kicks off next week at the ASB Classic.
“The [Auckland] field is super strong, especially being at the beginning of the year where even more unexpected things happen,” Bouchard told Australia’s Radio Sport Breakfast.
“It will be interesting. Those who train hard in the off-season maybe will be rewarded. I’ve got to keep working hard for the next week or so and then get ready to play.”
Bouchard has certainly put in the hard work during her time off, and it’s starting to show: when she took part in the Hawaii Open exhibition tournament, she took down CoCo Vandeweghe and Garbiñe Muguruza before falling to Elise Mertens in the final.
But it hasn’t been all work and no play for the 24-year-old Canadian either: Bouchard spent Boxing Day playing the role of celebrity fashion judge at the Ellerslie Races, cataloguing and rating every elaborate hat and colorful dress at the ‘Fashion in the Field’ event.
The 24-year-old has faced many ups and downs in her career after reaching the 2014 Wimbledon final, being unable to replicate the results in the years that followed. Once ranked inside the WTA’s Top 5, Bouchard’s ranking slipped as low as No.193 in June this year - but she showed flashes of that world-beating tennis after reaching the semifinals in Gstaad and Luxembourg (from qualifying), as well as winning four matches in a row to reach the Wimbledon and US Open second rounds as a qualifier.
"I feel like the end of 2018 was a little bit of a turning point," Bouchard said of her run at Luxembourg and the US Open. "I'm really excited to play, I'm really motivated. That's something I've struggled with in the past, motivation.
"I'm super happy to be here, even though I missed Christmas with my family, I know I'm here for work and doing what I want to do."
With her stellar end of 2018 - plus the positive results at the Hawaii exhibition event - Bouchard arrives in Auckland looking to continue with that momentum, as well as rebuild her confidence.
“I feel good,” Bouchard said. “I have a new coach I like, I’ve been working hard. There’s no guarantees for results but I definitely want to push myself and do whatever I can. I feel like I ended the season well, so I want to bring that momentum into 2019.”
Bouchard, who is now working with Michael Joyce after he split with Johanna Konta, has also spoken about ‘going back to basics’ with her signature, ultra-aggressive game - going back to the playing style which saw her reach those dizzying heights back in 2014.
“I feel at times, I got confused with what my game is,” Bouchard admitted. “I had some coaching changes, I felt pressure from results, I had some injuries, so I felt like I wasn’t always true to my game. I like to be aggressive and take control of the points and I felt like maybe at times the past couple of years I wasn’t…
“Going back to basics and how I play my best instinctively is going to help me the most.”
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