Eugenie Bouchard lost out in the second round of the Rogers Cup Wednesday night, 6-3, 6-2 to Petra Kvitova, but came away feeling that she can hang with the best players in the world.
The rising 19-year-old tennis star from Westmount, Que., thrived under the lights of Centre Court on Tuesday night with a victory before the Canadian crowd, but was soundly defeated there one night later by the defending Rogers Cup champion.
Bouchard played through some tough points versus Kvitova, the 6 seed at the tournament and ranked No.7 in the world and also the 2011 Wimbledon winner from Czech Republic. Ultimately, the Canadian struggled with unforced errors and double faults on her serve, falling to the overpowering and more experienced player.
“I think she played really well and you have to give it to her, but I do think it was a hard-fought battle and tougher than the score would indicate,” said Bouchard. “I’ve worked hard my whole life and I want to become a top 10 player, so I have to play the best. I love the opportunity. Even if I wasn’t playing at my best, I was fighting my best.”
Bouchard’s first-round victory had been a straight-sets affair over Russia’s Alisa Kleybanova 6-3, 6-1, a player just returning to the courts after a lengthy battle with cancer. Wednesday’s contest against a Top 10 player was quite a different task.
“I felt I wasn’t playing my best,” said Bouchard. “I usually rely on my serve to dominate the point and control, and I wasn’t doing that as well today, so I was a bit frustrated.”
Bouchard was the last Canadian to fall in the singles bracket of the Rogers Cup. Earlier Wednesday, Toronto’s Sharon Fichman lost 6-4, 7-6 to 15th-seeded Jelena Jankovic.
Bouchard is playing in her first full season on the WTA Tour. She came into the Rogers Cup as the highest-ranked Canadian at No. 62 in the world, a swift rise from her season-beginning ranking of No. 144. She was the face of the event and has been billed as Canada’s best hope for a female tennis champion, something the nation has not had since Carling Bassett.
“I know I can hang with the top girls,” said Bouchard. “We had a lot of competitive points today, and obviously she came out on top of more than I did, so now it’s a matter or working on being more consistent and being able to finish the points, like [Kvitova] does.”
Bouchard’s coach Nathalie Tauziat, a 1998 Wimbledon finalist and once ranked No. 3 in the world, says the young Canadian has the makings of a Top 10 player.
“Mentally, she’s very strong and really, really knows what she wants and makes every effort to realize it,” said Tauziat earlier on Wednesday. “I’m sure she will be a Top 10 player. She has the game to do it, she just needs time. Eugenie can be a big champion, because she loves the atmosphere on centre court, she loves to play in front of lots of people. Some players don’t like it, they don’t do well there, but she really does.”
The French coach, who has worked with Bouchard for just under three years, says she’s impressed with Bouchard’s maturity for such a young player.
“She has a good chance to rise faster into the Top 10 than I did because physically, she’s stronger than I was at this age, she hits the ball harder,” said Tauziat. “She needs to improve a little at the net, but she has a great game from the baseline. I wasn’t this good so young.”