While Eugenie Bouchard was a heavy favourite heading into her fourth round match against Irina-Camelia Begu, Canada’s premier player was given all she could handle by the hard-hitting Romanian during what was the opening match in the Round of Sixteen at the 2015 Australian Open.
Begu pushed the No. 7 seed to the limit before bowing out in three sets 6-1, 5-7, 6-2. With the win, Bouchard will advance to the quarterfinals of a major championship for the fourth time in five tries and will look to match her semi-final appearance of a year ago, where she fell to eventual champ Li Na 6-2, 6-4.
After surviving a break point in the first game of the match, the twenty year old quickly found her groove breaking Begu in the very next game to grab the early advantage and it was one she would not relinquish. Just as she did in her previous three matches, Bouchard pushed her opponent around the court with one powerful ground stroke after another and it appeared as though there was little the twenty-four year old could do to slow her down.
Even when the Canadian No. 1 struggled, serving three double faults in the same game and forcing herself to fight off four consecutive break points, Bouchard still found a way to get herself out of trouble and grab a 5-0 lead. Before you knew it the opening set was a done deal.
It was more of the same to start set number two, as Bouchard grabbed an early break following an absolutely gorgeous forehand winner and proceeded to consolidate at love to jump out to a 2-0 lead. After yet another break of serve, it looked as though it was more a matter of when and not if the native of Westmount, Quebec would be punching her ticket into the final eight.
However the No. 42 ranked player in the word did not go down quite so easily this time around, as she fought back from 0-3 down to take the next five games and eventually took the set to even things up. While Bouchard kept the unforced errors to a minimum in the opener, she became unglued in the second and once again struggled with her second serve.
To her credit, Begu raised her level of play but the young Canadian clearly dipped and it proved to be rather costly. Lucky for her, she was able to rebound in the third with another early break of serve and carried that momentum to what was a fairly straightforward final set. It may not have pretty but it was good enough to get job done in the fourth round.
If the fan favourite has any intention of making it back-to-back appearances in the Australian Open semi-finals, Bouchard will need to take her game to another level. The chances of her not facing Maria Sharapova would appear to be highly unlikely and should that be the case, the Canadian will need to play a far cleaner match to have any hope of knocking off the five-time major winner.