No home com­fort for Eu­ge­nie

New Straits Times - - Sport -

TORONTO: Eu­ge­nie Bouchard’s mid-sea­son nose­dive con­tin­ued on Tues­day as the Canadian was swept aside 6-3, 6-4 by Croa­t­ian qual­i­fier Donna Ve­kic de­spite hav­ing home ad­van­tage and the back­ing of an ex­cited crowd in a first round clash at the Rogers Cup.

With only one match win since her French Open sec­ond round exit, Eu­ge­nie was hop­ing a visit home would re­sult in a re­turn to the vic­tory col­umn.

But she drew lit­tle in­spi­ra­tion from the crowd as she added to a long list of dis­ap­point­ing ef­forts, com­mit­ting 32 un­forced er­rors and seven dou­ble faults while be­ing bro­ken six times by a 21-yearold mak­ing a her first ap­pear­ance in the main draw.

“I guess I am go­ing to have to have a tour­na­ment in Croa­tia to fi­nally have the home crowd,” said Donna, who earned a sec­ond round meeting with Ger­man third seed and for­mer World No 1 An­gelique Ker­ber.

“I hope I am go­ing to have sup­port (in the) next match and I hope we are go­ing to play on this court again,” added Donna.

Eu­ge­nie, ranked as high as num­ber five and hailed as the next big thing in women’s ten­nis when she reached the Wim­ble­don fi­nal and the semi-fi­nals at the Australian Open and Roland Gar­ros in 2014, has seen her rank­ing plum­met to 70 in the world and needed a wild­card en­try into her home tour­na­ment.

The Rogers Cup, which al­ter­nates be­tween Toronto and Mon­treal where Eu­ge­nie was born and raised, has never ex­actly been home-sweet-home for the Canadian who has made seven main draw ap­pear­ances but four times dropped her open­ing match and only once ad­vanced past the sec­ond round.

While her rank­ing does not rate cen­tre court sta­tus, Eu­ge­nie’s im­mense pop­u­lar­ity does, the smil­ing 23-year-old step­ping into the sun-kissed arena to huge ap­plause be­fore ex­it­ing 94 min­utes later with a blank face and a sheep­ish wave.

For­mer World No 1 Caro­line Woz­ni­acki opened her cam­paign with a 6-3, 6-0 sec­ond round rout of Eka­te­rina Alexan­drova.

The Dane, who cap­tured the Canadian tro­phy in 2010, is still look­ing for her first ti­tle of the sea­son af­ter be­ing in five fi­nals.

Pol­ish 10th seed Ag­nieszka Rad­wan­ska, the Rogers Cup win­ner in 2014, kicked off her North Amer­i­can hard­court cam­paign with a reg­u­la­tion 6-3, 6-3 win over Amer­i­can CoCo Van­deweghe, who lost the fi­nal in Stan­ford on Sun­day to com­pa­triot Madison Keys.

“In ten­nis you don’t have easy draws — you have bad ones, or re­ally bad ones,” said Ag­nieszka, who will next play either Hun­gary’s Timea Ba­bos or Canadian Bianca An­dreescu. “From the first round, you re­ally have to play your best game to win.”

Rus­sian 16th seed Elena Ves­nina was also an easy win­ner, dis­patch­ing an­other Amer­i­can Ali­son Riske 6-3, 6-3.

Cather­ine Bel­lis kept Tues­day from be­com­ing a com­plete washout for the United States as the 18-year-old bat­tled back from a set down to out­last Ger­many’s Ju­lia Go­erges 4-6, 6-3, 6-2. Reuters

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