It was far from a flawless performance but in the end, Eugenie Bouchard found that extra level when she needed it most during her prime time slot at Arthur Ashe Stadium on Thursday night in Flushing Meadows. On an evening in which the wind was swirling like mad at court level, the young Canadian found a way to outlast Sorana Cirstea in what was a very tough three set second round match, 6-2, 6-7 (4), 6-4.
While it may not have been the cake walk Bouchard had in her opening round win at the 2014 US Open, one cannot help but wonder if such a match may not turn out to be a blessing in disguise for the No. 7 seed. After struggling mightily through the post-Wimbledon hard court season, the Montreal native needed to find a way to beat a quality opponent and she managed to do exactly that.
Some may point to Cirstea’s No. 80 world ranking and suggest she is a player Bouchard should have little trouble with but in all honesty, that simply is not the case. The twenty-four year old Romanian finished the 2013 season as the No. 22 seed in WTA rankings and actually just saw that number plummet following her early exit in Montreal at the Rogers Cup, after reaching the final in Toronto a year earlier.
Both women had trouble adjusting to the blustery conditions during the opening stages of set number one but it was the twenty-year-old who managed to settle down and use a pair of service breaks to take the early advantage. Give Cirstea credit, she found another level after falling behind early in set number two and started to push her way back into the match and ultimately forced a deciding set following a hard fought 7-4 tiebreaker win.
However in the end, it was the three-time Grand Slam semi-finalist who kicked it into overdrive when the chips were down. Bouchard was the aggressor for much of the final set and started to show flashes of the return game she had previously displayed at both the All-England Club and Roland Garros. The bigger the point was, the harder this kid hit the ball and the more determined she became.
Be it during one of her own service games or on the return, the Bouchard of old finally started to resurface. She was crushing balls on both the forehand and backhand and clipping lines all over the court to boot. While there were still more than a few hiccups along the way, the Canadian No. 1 is now the proud owner of an 18-3 record in her four major championship appearances in 2014 and the youngster will look to improve on that mark when she takes on Barbora Zahlavova Strycova in the third round.