Genie Bouchard isn’t the first player to struggle after making a breakthrough to the highest level of world-class tennis.
There’s something about the innocence and fearlessness of a young player climbing the ranks that creates a state of grace, a blissful unawareness of the difficulty of what they are accomplishing.
It all seems so natural and even logical…until the weight of it sinks in and other players, now cast as the underdog, begin to ramp up when they play against the erstwhile phenom.
In the case of Bouchard, it’s possible to pinpoint the match when things began to unravel. She had won two matches at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells in March, easily dispatching Lucie Hradecka and Coco Vandeweghe before losing a third-round match 6-7(5), 7-5, 6-4 to No. 85-ranked qualifier Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine. It was madcap match with Tsurenko injuring her ankle late in the first set, Bouchard leaving the court midway through the second set for treatment on an abdominal strain, then serving for the match at 5-4 and subsequently taking a 4-0 lead in the final set only to lose six games in a row.
“The match was very close and tough and stressful and I got hurt,” she recalled during this year’s French Open about playing Tsurenko at Indian Wells. “I knew I could win it if I played my tennis. But I was a bit hesitant during the match. I think I lost some confidence after that match, even if I shouldn’t because it’s just one match. After that I felt less confident on the court in Miami (Tatjana Maria) and Charleston (Lauren Davis).”