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Bouchard ‘low on confidence’ after crashing out of Rogers Cup

Tuesday, August 8th, 2017 at 9:41 pm , filed under Tennis News by

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TORONTO – Confidence used to be Eugenie Bouchard’s calling card. Confidence propelled her to the elite ranks of the women’s game, to precocious superstardom, to a Grand Slam final, and two other Slam semis in her age 19-20 season in 2014.

She reacted with famously muted assuredness upon reaching the Wimbledon final that year, saying: “I never say I’m surprised, because it’s been a lot of hard work, and it’s been years in the making for me.”

But three years after her breakthrough, Bouchard finds herself searching for that long-lost magic elixir. At the Rogers Cup in Toronto on Tuesday, Bouchard hit another stumbling block, losing 6-3, 6-4 in the first round to 51st-ranked qualifier Donna Vekic. It was the 10th tournament this year at which she’s lost in the first round, and the third time in four appearances at her nominal home tournament that she’s failed to win a match.

“I just made too many unforced errors,” Bouchard said after the loss, in which she committed 32 of them. “I’m obviously a bit low on confidence right now, so it’s tough to get through tough matches when you’re in a moment like that.”

Bouchard’s star rose because of her talent, but also because she had the moxie to play inside the court, take every ball on the rise, and put equal parts force and belief behind even the lowest-percentage of shots. Against Vekic, she still had speckles of brilliance, still covered the court well, played aggressively, and hit a handful of return winners. But that was overshadowed by the sailing backhands, tentative approach shots, and repeated double-faults.

Despite Vekic’s qualifier status, the outcome shouldn’t really be classified as an upset. Bouchard ranks 19 spots lower, and would’ve had to qualify, too, if she hadn’t received a wild card. But at the least, the score should’ve been closer than it was. The majority of the games reached deuce, and the match ultimately turned on a few big points. In nearly all of them, Vekic was the steadier, more assured player.

Asked how she plans to try to recover her lost confidence, Bouchard offered just one solution: “Win matches.”

To that end, she’s found a sort of refuge recently in doubles. She and Sloane Stephens made the final at last week’s Citi Open in Washington, and she followed up her singles loss Tuesday with a first-round doubles win alongside world No. 1 Karolina Pliskova.

“It’s something I’ve thought about doing a little more to get more match play,” Bouchard said. “To me, even if it’s doubles and I generally am more of a singles player, it’s still (the) pressure of a match, and better than practice and more fun than practice, so I’ll do it a little more in the future. It was fun today.”

Pliskova reached out to Bouchard after her usual doubles partner, twin sister Kristyna, withdrew with an injury.

“Karolina just texted me out of the blue last week and said do you want to play, and I said sure,” Bouchard said. “I mean, you don’t say no to No. 1 in the world, right? But I’m super grateful she asked. She’s a very chill person.”

At the end of the day, though, Bouchard’s goals reside in singles, and though she’s still just 23, she hears the clock ticking all the time.

“I guess I’m relatively young, but I feel old in a way,” she said. “I’ve been on tour a bunch of years already, and I think it’s important to feel the pressure of time a little bit, to get into action, and not just relax and let years go by. That would be the worst thing I could do.”

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