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Eugenie Bouchard: The Genie who will rule the Tennis World in the Future?

By Dhriti Pande    + Follow

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Keywords: Australian Open |
Eugenie Bouchard: The Genie who will rule the Tennis World in the Future?
With the completion of the Australian Open 2014, we have witnessed two things, the mighty can fall and the weak can rise. Montreal's Eugenie Bouchard might not be a Grand Slam Champion this year but she has definitely become the Champion of the underdogs. With a brilliant start to 2014, this 19 year old Canadian teenage sensation made history by being the first Canadian in 30 years after Carling Basett at the US Open in 1984 to reach a Grand Slam semi-final and the first Canadian woman to reach the semi-final at the Australian Open.

Eugenie Bouchard’s spectacular run at the Australian Open has made the Canadian rise from 31 to a career-high 19th, the highest she has ever been ranked in the WTA Singles’ professional circuit. The tennis pundits this year have tipped her to be a likely Grand Slam Champion in the near future owing to her most important weapon on court – that being her confidence.

She is the rising star of women’s tennis, quite literally so having being ranked at 144 in the world at the beginning of 2013 and ending the year with a rank of 32. Bouchard is known for hitting the ball extremely early and not giving her opponents a chance to react to the balls at all. After her win over the former World no.1, Ana Ivanovic, she stated that, “Eugenie is a very aggressive player. It’s sometimes very hard to read her game. There are no patterns, like with other players. She’s a great mover.” This is what makes this Canadian heartthrob the real deal.

What is it about these young players that make tennis such a fascinating game? Every year, we have the lower seeded players fighting hard for a top spot, but this “Genie’ has other plans up her sleeves. She has always been confident about her game. She has been playing tennis since the age of 5 and says that this is what she does and believes that one day she can rise to the accolades and adulations showered upon her. She is a winner in her own stride, with already a massive male following, terming themselves as the “Genie Army”. Eugenie has millions of fans in Australia after her spectacular performance Down Under.

Bouchard entered the professional circuit in 2005 when she captured several ITF singles and doubles titles. She also participated in the doubles and at Wimbledon; she won the doubles junior event with her partner Grace Min. Her first WTA main draw win came in 2011, at the end of July, when she beat the 114th ranked Alison Riske at the Citi Open, in College Park. Bouchard won the Wimbledon Junior title in 2012, making her the first Canadian girl to do so.

Her breakthrough came in the year 2013; when Bouchard attempted to qualify for the main draw of the Family Circle Cup which was a success as she drew fellow qualifier Nastassja Burnett in round 1 and went on to register a straight sets victory over her. She also defeated Laura Robson in three sets in the second round, her first top 50 win.

She then had the biggest win of her career when she defeated the former US Open Champion Samantha Stosur to book a spot in the quarter-finals of the Premier tournament. It was the first top 10 victory of her young career. Although, she lost to Jelena Jankovic, the quarter final appearance assumed her a spot in the top 100 for the first time.

Thereafter, Eugenie went on to play a French Open warm-up tournament, the Internationaux de Strasbourg, where she had one of her most impressive runs on the WTA Tour to date. She made it to the semi-finals but lost to Alize Cornet at that stage. She made her first Grand Slam main draw appearance at Roland Garros, where she defeated Tsvetana Pironkova in straight sets before bowing out at the hands of Russian diva Maria Sharapova in the following round.

At Wimbledon, on a day of upsets, she knocked out the Serbian beauty Ana Ivanovic in straight sets on Centre Court in the second round. However, it was her performance against 17 times Grand Slam champion Serena Williams in Cincinnati that caught everybody’s attention as she had the American under all sorts of problems by pocketing the first set. Yet, she couldn’t delight her home fans with stunning victory over the World No.1 as Serena somehow managed to squeeze out a win in a tight three setter.

Her rich vein of form continued in Asia as well as at the Premier 5 Toray Pan Pacific Open, Bouchard had a remarkable run. She reached the quarter-finals of the tournament by defeating Monica Puig, Sloane Stephens and Jelena Jankovic before losing out to Venus Williams in the last 4 in a marathon 3 hour long encounter.

At the beginning of October at the HP Open, she made it to her first WTA Singles’ final where she was defeated by Samantha Stosur in a closely fought three set contest. With all these achievements in her most successful year, she was named WTA Newcomer of the Year, the first Canadian after Carling Bassett in 1983 to win the award.

The beginning of 2014 for Bouchard has been exemplary, with the best Grand Slam result for her to date. Eugenie till her third round match didn’t drop a set, but the Aussie Casey Delacqua took her to a third set in the fourth round. Against Ana Ivanovic in the quarter finals, this Canadian wonder made a charging start with a love game and saved a pair of break points in the third game for a 2-1 lead.

But she lost her way in the seventh game to begin what turned into a run of five consecutive breaks. From 5-5 when she saved two break points Bouchard lost 8 of 9 points, six through unforced errors. The experienced Ivanovic broke for 6-5 and finally claimed the set after 47 minutes in the ensuing game. In the second set, Bouchard kept calm as she began to find her range, taking a 3-1 lead with a break and eventually secured the set 7-5. The third and the final set came relatively easy for Bouchard who closed out a victory with a forehand winner at the corner.

By age 12, Bouchard’s family decided they needed access to better coaching and warmer weather to help her develop her game. So they moved to Florida, where she joined Nick Saviano’s Academy. Laura Robson is Eugenie’s best friend who has struggled with fitness issues over the years, while Bouchard hasn’t faced such issues. She has been working really hard with her coach and the hard work has paid off with her first semi-final appearance.

Saviano, her coach’s first impression when he saw Bouchard play was that she is a good athlete who is a hard worker with good values. She’s mentally tough. After her performance he said, “This is not a fluke, from my perspective. She’ll be ready to go and she’s not going to be afraid to take the (semi-final) match against no.4 seed (Li Na of China).”

Yet, China’s Na Li defeated Bouchard 6-2, 6-4 on Thursday in the semi-finals. After the match Li stated, “I think maybe she will be the best player in the world. But today I’m so lucky.” Li jokingly apologized to the ‘Genie Army’ after the match.

Bouchard calls herself a “Belieber”, a term used for Justin Bieber fans as this teenage darling stated during the post-match interview, that she would want to go out with the Canadian teenage singing sensation. This probably was downplayed by the crowd as they booed to this revelation, maybe because of their love for the Canadian tennis sweetheart or her bad choice. A heart feels what it wants to feel, so we’ll give it to this talented lady.

Eugenie also is very talented when it comes to dancing; she has featured in a Gangnam style video with British Tennis Princess Laura Robson, who she has beaten twice. Also, apparently Eugenie’s parents are obsessed with the British royal family naming her twin sister Beatrice and her after Prince Andrew’s daughters. Bouchard who turns 20 next month was asked about ice hockey, a game her country is crazy about and she believes that tennis will also be paid attention to now.

“She’s definitely brave. She’s young and has nothing to lose, “Ivanovic said. “I think she is a very great player with a bright future.” Her ranking will definitely see a positive jump this year owing to her victory over the former World No.1 and her confidence is also on the rise, this gives her plenty of reason to one day achieve a Grand Slam title and that too at a very young age.

The key factor playing a role in her foreseen success is her youth. She consistently shows signs of being a great player. Her shot selection, aggression and temperament on court are what keep her ticking against the best players of the world. She wants to reach the world top 10 very soon and also does not want to be carried away by her recent success. She can evolve to be a Grand Slam Champion one day. She is young, she is graceful, she is talented and with so many things in store for her, she is the one to watch out for this year and for many years to come.

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