Ten­nis Canada glad to have Bouchard back for Fed Cup

The Beacon Herald - - SPORTS - BILL BEA­CON

MON­TREAL — Canada is de­lighted to have Eu­ge­nie Bouchard back with its Fed­er­a­tion Cup squad even if the 2014 Wim­ble­don fi­nal­ist has hit a rough patch in her ca­reer.

Bouchard, whose WTA rank­ing has tum­bled to No. 117, is to play this week when Canada faces Ukraine in a World Group II play­off — a must­win se­ries to avoid be­ing rel­e­gated to the Amer­i­can Zone next year.

Ukraine’s top player, fourthranked Elina Svi­tolina, is not ex­pected to play in the best-of­five in­door se­ries Satur­day and Sun­day.

“It’s big be­cause we need all our top play­ers,” Ten­nis Canada se­nior vice-pres­i­dent Eu­gene Lapierre said Mon­day. “On pa­per, even if Svi­tolina would not be play­ing, I don’t think we’re favoured to beat Ukraine, so it’s im­por­tant that (Bouchard) is there and I think it’s im­por­tant for her, too, to start some­where.

The 24-year-old Bouchard was rid­ing high in 2014 when she reached at least the semi­fi­nals of three grand slam tour­na­ments, ris­ing to a ca­reer­high fifth in world rank­ings. She also helped Canada reach the top level of the Fed Cup, World Group I, by win­ning both sin­gles matches against the Czech Repub­lic.

But the West­mount, Que., na­tive hasn’t played in Fed Cup since 2015 against Ro­ma­nia as she strug­gled with her game. In Jan­uary, Bouchard dropped out of the top-100 for the first time since April, 2013.

She has also re­port­edly had of­f­court woes, los­ing spon­sors and split­ting with her agent.

“She’s al­ways had a very good at­ti­tude with the na­tional team,” said Lapierre. “She’s the leader of that team.”

Bouchard re­mains Canada’s topranked woman. Her team­mates this week in­clude Fran­coise Abanda of Mon­treal (127th), Bianca An­dreescu of Thorn­hill, Ont. (197th) and Gabriela Dabrowski of Ot­tawa, who is ranked 10th in dou­bles.

GETTY FILES

Eu­ge­nie Bouchard has joined the Cana­dian ten­nis team for its up­com­ing Fed Cup match with Ukraine. Bouchard hasn’t played in the Fed Cup since 2015.

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