There have been a lot of Genie Bouchard losses lately – 12 in her last 14 matches – but the latest should probably come with an asterisk.
After losing 7-6(3), 6-4 to Chinese qualifier Duan Ying Ying on Tuesday, Bouchard revealed that she played with a grade two tear in her abdomen.
With Wimbledon her favourite tournament and her returning as the 2014 runner-up, there was never any doubt in her mind that she would play. “On one leg” if necessary was how she had put it after her abdomen strain in Eastbourne last Wednesday.
“There was no question I was going to play, even if I was advised not to,” Bouchard said. “It’s just the way I am. It’s so hard to be forced not to play tennis, especially at Wimbledon. I was going out there to play no matter what.”
“I did kind of minimal preparation to save myself for the match.”
That was most obvious in her serve, which was all over the map. There were 10 doubles faults but all kinds of first and second serves that misfired metres long and wide. Mixed in were four aces, which she probably had as much control over as all those flagrant faults.
“I haven’t practiced that much so I felt my timing was off,” she said.
Bouchard actually led 2-0 to start the match but once No. 117-ranked Duan broke back to 2-all and then took a 4-2 lead, it was always catch-up as the world No. 12 mixed in shots that looked like the Bouchard of Wimbledon ’14 along with egregious unforced errors that have become all too familiar to her fans over the past few months.
From 3-all in the first set tiebreak, she lost four points in a row, three of them misses on her side of the net.
Then at 4-all in the second set, there was a nightmare game that started with a double fault and ended with a typical two points – a big forehand winner facing the first of two break points and then a forehand long off a powerful forehand by Duan, who played well enough to win against a diminished but still battling Genie Bouchard.
In the wake of her loss, and a rankings drop to roughly No. 29 after Wimbledon, there will be all kinds of speculation. Coach Sam Sumyk came on board after her run to the Australian Open quarter-finals in January and since then her record is 4-13.
“We’ve definitely not started well at all,” Bouchard said. “But, you know, I believe in him and he believes in me. As of right now, it’s the plan. But there has to be some improvement, some changes because I expect to be better than this.”
Last month, she parted company with fitness trainer Scott Brynes and it sounds like she could be looking for a more permanent solution in that area to help get fitter to avoid issues like the forearm, ankle and abdomen problems that have impeded her at times this year.
Toward the end of her media conference on Tuesday, Bouchard was probably overly harsh on the media, saying, “I’ve learned that the media was really… when I had good results, they were talking about it a lot. It was so positive. As soon as I had bad results, it was so negative so quickly. So I’ve just been learning that’s how it is in the world.”
In fact, the media, on the whole, has probably not been unfair with her. It’s only normal it should search for answers that have been so hard to come by even for Bouchard herself.
On the other hand, there are nutbars on social media who jump to way premature conclusions and show little or no sympathy for a 21-year-old who is doing her best to make her way in the survival-of-the-fittest world of tennis.
Her compatriot Vasek Pospisil has experienced some of the vagaries of the pro tour, including losing eight matches in a row from January to June last year while battling back trouble.
“She’s obviously going through a tough patch right now,” Pospisil said. “It’s not uncommon – I think every player at one stage or throughout their career goes through a couple of those patches. She’s obviously trying to figure things out. Watching a few of her matches…it’s a tough scenario for sure. She’s feeling a lot of pressure and at the same time she’s not playing well, and once you get into that, I guess it becomes like a snowball effect. The more she loses, the harder it’s going to be to get out of it. Once she does… a player who’s been five in the world obviously has the level to get back. She just has to mentally flip a switch somewhere. But it’s tough.”
It appears certain Bouchard will pull out of the doubles with Lesia Tsurenko and head home soon. “I’ll see doctors and stuff,” she said. “I’ll definitely take the time necessary. There’s definitely a longer break now so I’ll try to use that to my advantage. I don’t know exactly what it will be.”
She has now been in Europe for more than eight weeks, so some home cooking is probably just what the doctor ordered both practically and figuratively.
Her next tournament is scheduled to be the WTA $250,000 International Series event in Washington, D.C., beginning the week of August 3rd. That’s the week before Rogers Cup in Toronto.
The break now should give her plenty of time to heal and try to reinvigorate her game on the hard court surface that she grew up on.
To her credit, Bouchard has been admirably forthcoming in her media conferences throughout her travails. “I’ve learned over these months…I try to answer questions as honestly as I can,” she said. “It’s just learning that there’s that up and down in life, in the media and everything. I’m fine with it. That’s the way it is.”
In her final answer in front of the international media on Tuesday, Bouchard was commendably candid about herself and these troubling times. “I’ve learned a lot about my world,” she said. “I’ve tried to really be patient and understand that it won’t always go well. That’s the biggest thing.
“It’s definitely been a tough time. But if I stick with it, keep going, have the success I know I can have – I think it will be that much sweeter.”
Pospisil’s long road to win
Vasek Pospisil was in a bad way in the third set and into the fourth of his opening-round match at Wimbledon on Tuesday but he managed to pull out a 7-6(2), 3-6, 6-7(4), 7-6(4), 6-3 win over qualifier Vincent Millot.
The 29-year-old Frenchman actually led 4-2 and served for a 5-2 lead in the fourth set before Pospisil rallied.
In the third set and into the fourth set he was bothered by cramps. “In the upper quad, and calf and the upper hamstring as well,” was how he described it later. There was even a cramping issue with one of his pecs, which he said was fairly innocuous – “subtle and quick” were the actual words he used to describe that discomfort.
The match with Millot lasted three hours and 43 minutes in heat that reached about 30 degrees.
Pospisil, who had 25 aces and eight double faults and was 59/45 in winners to unforced errors ratio, was not at his sharpest but gutsed it out in difficult conditions.
Afterward, Millot (looking at a Pospisil ace above) told French reporters that he thought Pospisil had “faire du theatre” (basically faking it) at the end of the third set. When told, Pospisil took exception and reacted strongly to that accusation.
“If he felt the way I was feeling, then I don’t think he’d say that,” Pospisil said. “He’d be even more disappointed he didn’t win this match. I’ll just say that he missed an opportunity because I was feeling 60 per cent on the court.
“In the fifth set I was going all in. I actually felt better physically than I was during the match. I don’t know why, if it was less humid or whatever the reason was – I drank three bottles of electrolytes.
“There’s no way I should have won the fourth set. I wasn’t feeling good at all. If he wants to use that as an excuse, he can do that. But that wasn’t the reality of it all.
“I wasn’t moving, my legs were cramping (in the fourth-set tiebreak).
“I’ll gladly go on record and say that.”
In Thursday’s second round, Pospisil plays No. 30 seed Fabio Fognini. It will be their first meeting.
There could be some concern for Pospisil in his doubles quest with partner Jack Sock. They are already in the second round, as they attempt to defend their 2014 Wimbledon title, but the American lost his opening-round singles match on Tuesday to Aussie Sam Groth while enduring injury issues with both a finger and a knee.
Raonic in round two
Milos Raonic returns to No. 1 Court on Wednesday when he plays Tommy Haas in a second-round match at 1 p.m. (8 a.m. EDT in Canada). The last time Raonic was in the 11,393-capacity stadium was when he defeated Nick Kyrgios in the Wimbledon quarter-finals a year ago.
In their only previous meeting, Raonic beat Haas, 37, 6-4, 6-3 in the final of the now-defunct San Jose tournament in 2013.
Haas, who ranked as high as No. 2 in May 2002, currently resides at No. 861 after a lost year following shoulder surgery in June of 2014.
Andy Murray made a successful Wimbledon debut on Tuesday. Before that, about midday, he was strolling near the media area just past some of the abundant floral creations on the grounds of the All England Club.