More woes for Eu­ge­nie

New Straits Times - - Sport -

MI­AMI: Eu­ge­nie Bouchard’s poor run of form con­tin­ued on Wednesday as the Cana­dian suf­fered a first-round exit at the hands of Aus­tralia’s Ash­leigh Barty at the Mi­ami Open.

Wild­card Ash­leigh’s 6-4, 5-7, 63 win sets up an all-Aus­tralian clash in the sec­ond round of the WTA hard­court event against 14th seed Samantha Sto­sur.

But for the 23-year-old Eu­ge­nie, a for­mer World No 5 who has slumped to 56th in the rank­ings, it was another blow af­ter her first-round exit in In­dian Wells.

“It has been a bit of a strug­gle,” said a stone-faced Eu­ge­nie, who was un­able to ac­count for her loss of form.

Eu­ge­nie was a beaten fi­nal­ist at Wim­ble­don in 2014 but, apart from a run to the semi-fi­nal at Syd­ney where she was beaten by Bri­tain’s Jo­hanna Konta, she has been un­able to make an im­pact this year.

Ash­leigh re­pro­duced the gutsy ten­nis that helped her se­cure her maiden WTA ti­tle at the Malaysian Open in Kuala Lumpur last month.

“We’ve had a good pre-sea­son and get a good foun­da­tion and the stars aligned a bit for us this year so far.

“We have worked hard and it is just that hard work start­ing to pay off,” said the Aus­tralian.

The 20-year-old, who took time out from ten­nis in 2014 to play cricket, has never come up against her com­pa­triot Samantha be­fore and while she will start as clear un­der­dog, she is rel­ish­ing the chal­lenge.

“It will be good. Ob­vi­ously we have trained to­gether and hit a lot so it will be in­ter­est­ing.

“I am re­ally ex­cited. For me it is just another op­por­tu­nity to go out and play,” she said.

Ser­bia’s Je­lena Jankovic was another high-pro­file early exit, the 2008 Mi­ami fi­nal­ist fall­ing 46, 6-4, 7-6 (7/3) to Kaza­khstan’s Yaroslava Shve­dova.

Lo­cal favourite and Rio Olympics gold medal­list Mon­ica Puig was com­fort­ably dealt with 6-2, 6-4 by Ro­ma­nian So­rana Cirstea. The Puerto Ri­can Mi­ami-res­i­dent strug­gled from the out­set and al­though she bat­tled back well in the sec­ond set, So­rana kept her cool to book a sec­ond round meet­ing with Lat­vian 19th seed Anas­tasija Sev­as­tova.

Bri­tain’s Heather Wat­son, who reached the fourth round in Mi­ami last year, was beaten 7-6 (7/4), 6-1 by Ro­ma­nian qual­i­fier Pa­tri­cia Maria Tig.

REUTERS PIC

Ash­leigh Barty reaches for a back­hand against Eu­ge­nie Bouchard in the Mi­ami Open on Wednesday. Ash­leigh won 6-4, 5-7, 6-3.

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