Heading into the 2015 Australian Open, there were those who were starting to question just how good Eugenie Bouchard really is. While 2014 was a year the Canadian No. 1 won’t soon forget, it was one that did not exactly finish on the highest of notes.
With her late season struggles being what they were and the pressure of now having to defend a ton of points in the rankings being a very real thing, many felt the soon-to-be twenty-one year old could be in for a bit of a rough ride this time around.
While it may still be early, the No. 7 seed has looked fairly impressive in advancing to the third round with a pair of straight forward wins in her opening two matches at the year’s first major. After losing all of six games during her first round match with Germany’s Anna-Lena Friedsam, Bouchard looked even better in disposing of Kiki Bertens in exactly fifty-four minutes.
As if the 6-0, 6-3 score line wasn’t impressive enough, the fact the native of Westmount, Quebec committed just fourteen unforced errors is something which cannot be overlooked. The powerful groundstrokes that played a major role in Bouchard reaching the levels she achieved in 2014, but inexplicably disappeared over the final few months of the year, appear to be back and not a moment too soon.
When she is on her game, the young Canadian dictates the pace of her matches and almost always has her opponent on their heels and that was certainly the case against both Bertens and Friedsam. While neither one would be considered anything other than your middle of the road WTA Tour members, like most of the other top women on tour, Bouchard has had her struggles against similar competition at various points in her young career.
Again, it is still early but all signs are pointing towards her rounding into form and with the trio of Angelique Kerber, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Carla Suárez Navarro all losing their first round matches, there is absolutely no reason why Bouchard cannot cruise into the quarter-finals. If she can do that, the fan favorite will likely get a crack at avenging her semi-final loss to Maria Sharapova at last year’s French Open.
While the five-time Grand Slam winner was pushed to the limit by Alexandra Panova in her second round match, something tells me she will be all business from here on in. With that said, Sharapova has not won this event since 2008 and there is no question Eugenie Bouchard believes she can hold her own against the No. 2 seed. Let us hope tennis fans will have the opportunity to look what has all the makings of one heck of a quarter-final match.