Eugenie Bouchard’s Remarkable Week On Clay Continues

Eugenie Bouchard (photo: Gökhan Taner/@gokhantnr)

WASHINGTON, September 12, 2020 (by Michael Dickens)

While much of the tennis world has been focused this week on the US Open, 5,000 miles and an ocean away in Istanbul, Turkey, Eugenie Bouchard has gone about the business of rediscovering the art of the sport she loves to play.

On Friday, afternoon, the 26-year-old qualifier rallied from a set down to pull out a 3-6, 6-4, 7-5 victory over 92nd-ranked Danka Kovinic of Montenegro. The win has lifted the 272nd-ranked Bouchard into the semifinal round of the TEB BNP Paribas Tennis Championships Istanbul, a WTA International clay-court event at the Turkey Tennis Federation Tennis Club.

It took Bouchard three hours and two minutes to put away Kovinic, but it was certainly worth the effort she put into it – and it means that Bouchard will appear in her first WTA semifinal since Luxembourg 2018, when she lost to Julia Goerges in three sets.

Next, Bouchard will face 94th-ranked Paula Badosa of Spain in Saturday’s first semifinal after the Spaniard upset third seed Polona Hercog of Slovenia, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, in two hours and 39 minutes, thanks in part to a superior return game.

The second semifinal will match 136th-ranked Czech qualifier Tereza Martincova, who beat No. 106 Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus, 6-2, 6-3, to reach her first WTA semifinal in three years against 88th-ranked Patricia Maria Tig of Romania. Tig reached her fifth career WTA semifinal – and second this year – with a 6-3, 6-1 upset of No. 2 seed Rebecca Peterson of Sweden. Tig overcame a 3-0 deficit in the opening set by winning six straight games and maintained her momentum in the second set for her 15th win of the year.

“I played her before so I knew what to expect. I fought for every point and it made me a winner tonight,” said Tig, who broke Peterson six times in eight tries and has yet to drop a set in her three wins this week. She outpointed the 48th-ranked Swede 62-44 to remain in contention for her first WTA singles title a week after collecting her first US Open win.

Meanwhile, a day after she upset top seed and 34th-ranked Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia, 7-6 (3), 6-7 (5), 6-2, Bouchard was back out on the Center Court, playing through some lingering right shoulder pain that required in-match medical treatment. Although her shoulder and the court conditions weren’t ideal, Bouchard persevered – making the most of her opportunities – and in the end was rewarded with a hard-fought victory against Kovinic.

By the end of the match, Bouchard had accumulated two fewer points on her serve than Kovinic, but amassed six more on her returns – including one additional break of serve than her opponent – and the margin of difference was a mere four points, 115-111, in her favor.

A win is a win in Bouchard’s book these days, and with her success this week in Istanbul – two wins in qualifying and three in the main draw – following a quarterfinal finish on clay in Prague last month, her live ranking has improved to No. 201. Unfortunately, Bouchard’s sudden rise in the rankings likely won’t be good enough to get her into the French Open. But it’s certainly something for the former World No. 4 to build upon the rest of the season.

When Tennis TourTalk asked Bouchard during a Zoom video chat after her latest victory why she thought she won, the Canadian answered in an honest and matter-of-fact tone of voice with that recognizable, thoughtful-sounding Canadian accent.

“I won because of not giving up, fighting, being tired physically and mentally,” she said. “So, I’m really proud of that.

“It shows me that even though I wasn’t feeling great before the match, at the start of the match and in the first set, that I can turn things around. There’s always hope.”

Bouchard was then asked what does a win like Friday’s does for her confidence. She replied: “It gives me a sense of confidence that I can give myself a chance, even when things aren’t going well.”

Summing up her week on clay, a tired but proud Bouchard expressed: “It’s been physical, you have to be patient and try and play defense as well,” she said. “I’ve been able to grind out points. If you’re on defense and you force them to miss, it’s still worth the same point.”