Bouchard still feels home­town pres­sure

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - MELISSA COUTO

Eu­ge­nie Bouchard still feels the pres­sure ahead of her first match at the Rogers Cup, even if the women’s event isn’t in her home­town of Mon­treal this year.

Bouchard, from West­mount, Que., re­mains Canada’s top women’s sin­gles ten­nis player de­spite dwin­dling down from a ca­reer­high No. 5 rank­ing in 2014 to her cur­rent po­si­tion as No. 73.

And while Toronto isn’t home — “as in the place where I grew up and played ten­nis at since I was eight years old” — Bouchard is still feel­ing the nerves be­fore Tues­day’s match against No. 51 Donna Ve­kic of Croa­tia.

“Look, Ser­ena (Wil­liams) still says she feels ner­vous be­fore matches, so I don’t think it’s ever some­thing that any ath­lete com­pletely mas­ters,” Bouchard said. “I think it’s more about how well you deal with it. And it’s just an on­go­ing bat­tle, re­ally. Some days I feel like I’m bet­ter at deal­ing with it than others.

“I feel like for sure I’ve learned more and been able to kind of maybe de­tach it a lit­tle bit and, re­ally make it ‘OK, this is my job,’ and it’s not, let’s say, so per­sonal. But it’s an on­go­ing process. It’s some­thing I’ll al­ways have to deal with for the rest of my ca­reer.”

Bouchard, who made a name for her­self when she reached the Wim­ble­don fi­nal in 2014 af­ter two straight Grand Slam semi­fi­nal ap­pear­ances, has failed to make it past the sec­ond round in five straight tour­na­ments.

A wild-card en­try this week, Bouchard will open her Rogers Cup against Ve­kic dur­ing the day ses­sion Tues­day in­stead of the prime-time night ses­sion usu­ally given to top Cana­di­ans.

Ve­kic won her spot in the main draw via a two-round qual­i­fy­ing tour­na­ment over the week­end.

Still, she knows a vic­tory Tues­day won’t be easy. “She’s a good player,” Bouchard said. “I watched her match at Wim­ble­don against ( Jo­hanna) Konta. That was a re­ally good match, I thought.”

In an ef­fort to find the level of suc­cess that has eluded her over the last three years, Bouchard trained with former No. 1 An­dre Agassi and trainer Gil Reyes in Las Ve­gas this sum­mer.

She even re­turned to the ITF Pro cir­cuit, a step be­low the WTA, for a tour­na­ment in April, reach­ing the quar­ter-fi­nals be­fore los­ing to 896th-ranked Amer­i­can Vic­to­ria Duval.

Eu­ge­nie Bouchard

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