MADRID, Spain - Eugenie Bouchard snapped a six-match tour-level losing streak on Saturday, beating Alizé Cornet 6-4, 4-6, 6-1 to advance to the second round of the Mutua Madrid Open. The win was Bouchard's first WTA win since the Australian Open in January and her first ever win in Madrid.
"It was my first match win in Madrid, so I'm very, very happy about that," Bouchard told reporters after the match. "Fourth time's a charm."
After a strong start to the season in January, making the semifinals in Sydney and the third round at the Australian Open, Bouchard has endured a difficult three months on the court. The former No.5 came to Madrid ranked at No.60, having even dipped down to the ITF level last month to play the 75K tournament in Indian Harbour Beach, Florida, where she lost to Victoria Duval in the quarterfinals.
"I made the decision myself kind of against my coaches' opinions," Bouchard said. "I told myself, Look, you can't win a match at the WTA level. This is your punishment. You're going down to ITF. I didn't even win the tournament there, which was fine.
"I just wanted to ground myself a little bit. It brought back such memories of, like, five years ago as a junior playing those events. So different. You don't need accreditation, all these weird things that just aren't there.
"It was eye-opening, a good reality check for me. It was good, even though the result wasn't great."
The coverage of Bouchard's struggles since her breakout season in 2014 is well-worn territory. That season she made the semifinals or better at three of the four Slams, including her first major final at Wimbledon, where she lost to Petra Kvitova. She won her first and only WTA title that season, in Nuremberg, and qualified for her first BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global.
Since then Bouchard has struggled to match those heady heights. Her losing streak this year kicked off a soul-searching expedition, one that she says is still ongoing.
"I discovered a lot of black, like my outfit," she joked, referring to her casual all-black Nike ensemble. "It's tough. That's the way life is. That's the way tennis is. I tried to really realize what was going on mentally, feeling the pressures. Even though I was losing matches, I still felt pressure to win matches.
"But then I thought to myself, Well, I've lost like five first rounds in a row, I should have nothing to lose. I tried to change my mentality a little bit, and to also just stop worrying about external things."
"It was a little bit of a process of discovering what emotions I was really feeling, whether it was fear or pressure, other things, and actually just facing it, maybe not just avoiding it and the thinking, I can just go through life and avoid emotions. As much as I don't like being emotional, you have to kind of confront your emotions and deal with them.
"It was more about figuring out what's going on, why, just being really honest with myself. It was an important lesson that I will hopefully continue to implement, to just constantly be honest with yourself. I think that's the most important thing."
Nowadays, each win means a world of confidence to Bouchard and she'll face another tough test either way in the second round in Madrid. The 23-year-old is slated to face either Mirjana Lucic-Baroni or Maria Sharapova, as the two veterans are set to face-off on Sunday in their first-round match.
Asked for her take on her next potential opponents, the confident Canadian kept her assessment short and simple.
"I think they both play similar, aggressive tennis.
"But I hope I can play Maria."