BRISBANE, Australia - Eugenie Bouchard came into her first match of the 2017 season having played just two matches since September. After taking a 6-2, 2-6, 6-1 loss to Shelby Rogers in the first round of the Brisbane International, the candid Canadian admitted to feeling a bit undercooked coming into the new season.
"I definitely feel kind of rusty, out of it," Bouchard said. "I haven't played in a match in a while. I haven't won a match in a while. All those thoughts kind of go into your head a little bit when you're on the court."
Currently ranked No.46, Bouchard struggled with her rhythm early against Rogers, falling behind 0-4 in the first set as the American did well to hold her position on the baseline and match power for power off the ground. After losing the first set 6-2, Bouchard fired herself, played with more intensity in the second set, and her power game began to click.
After pocketing the second set 6-2, Bouchard invoked the 10-minute heat rule and both players went off court to cool down.
"I always find those breaks kind of weird. I did ask for it and I did want it, just to take a bit more time to try to cool down. I thought it was the smarter move. But it's always weird kind of sitting in the locker room for like five minutes and then going back out."
Hey old friend ? pic.twitter.com/RrXshwN8cN
? Genie Bouchard (@geniebouchard) December 30, 2016
Bouchard came out flat in the final set and Rogers steadied her game to earn her second straight win over the Canadian. It was a strong, powerful performance from Rogers and it left Bouchard back at the drawing board.
"I felt definitely not completely ready coming here. I felt I wanted maybe a bit more time before the season started, but everything always comes by so quick.
"So we were kind of coming in maybe knowing that a little bit, but it's still time to go, and sometimes it's also good for you to kind of just put yourself out there, throw yourself to the wolves and see what happens, and improve that way, learn that way instead of just another training week. So that was the choice. That was why we chose to come here.
"But, yeah, there is just lots of work to be done. It's kind of getting used to playing a tennis match again, in a way. I know everyone feels like that at the beginning of the season, but the lack of matches I have played after the US Open makes it more. I just feel it more for my situation."
Bouchard's 2016 season started well, as she looked well on her way towards putting a disappointing 2015 season behind her. She made two finals in the first two months of the season. But after a heavy schedule over the summer, which saw her play seven tournaments between Wimbledon and the Coupe Banque Nationale, she felt burnt out and needed a break.
? WTA (@WTA) January 1, 2017
"Even though I wasn't going far in each one, I was still, the mentality of going from tournament to tournament and always that stress of a tournament week after week after week. Especially after the Quebec City tournament, obviously which is at home and a lot more emotional and really tough to play in, I felt so burnt out. I didn't even want to play the rest of the season."
Bouchard skipped the Asian swing and returned to play Luxembourg and Linz, where she lost in the opening rounds to end her season. She says the experience taught her the importance of scheduling her season properly to keep her as fresh as possible.
"The thought process was because I was kind of losing earlier in tournaments, go try and play another one, go try and play another one, you always have that hope at least to plan to go play a match instead of practice, but I think after a point it actually becomes detrimental.
"Definitely going to be smarter with scheduling this year. We also had the Olympics, which is also very taxing physically, emotionally. A lot of things, obviously that's how it happens. It's a perfect storm of events, but, yeah, I definitely took a longer break at the end of this year than usual, and I really needed it, but I feel like it helped because I'm super motivated. I just need to get back into it."
Bouchard is scheduled to play the Apia International Sydney next week.
? Genie Bouchard (@geniebouchard) December 31, 2016