In 2014, Eugenie Bouchard seemed to announce herself to the world as a future major contender when she raced into the final of Wimbledon at the tender age of 20. However, ever since reaching that final, the young Canadian has struggled. 2016 has been a bounce-back year for the Canadian but she has yet to have a major breakthrough. Can she do it at Wimbledon as she returns to the site of her greatest success?
Notable Results to Date
Bouchard already has more match wins through the first six months of 2016 than she did in all of 2015 and has yet to lose more than two matches in a row. She has not struggled nearly as much as last season, so it can definitely be considered a step in the right direction. She reached a pair of finals, Hobart and Kuala Lumpur, losing the latter in a tight three-setter. She only has a pair of first-round losses so far this year, whereas at this time last year she had lost her opening match seven times. While she still loses matches to lower ranked opponents, most of her losses this year have been to higher-ranked opponents.
Best Grass Results Leading into Wimbledon
The former Wimbledon finalist has not had the greatest prep n the lead up to the All-England Club, going 2-3 in her three events. The low point was her first match when she only won two games in a blowout loss to world number 171 Elise Mertens at the Ricoh Open. She scored a win in the first round of Mallorca before bowing out in the second round in straight sets. In Eastbourne, she blew out Varvara Lepchenko before a respectable loss to world number three Agnieszka Radwanska. Despite the disappointing results, it’s worth remembering that she did not win a match on grass before her run in 2014.
Best Results at Wimbledon
Wimbledon has more often than not been Bouchard’s best event. It was the site of her mini-breakout in 2013 before her epic run in 2014. In her debut in 2013, she upset 12th seed and former major champion Ana Ivanovic in straight sets in the second round before falling to Carla Suarez Navarro in the third round.
When the Canadian returned 12 months later, she was in the midst of her brilliant run at majors, having reached the semifinals of the last two majors. She was stronger than ever on the lawns of the All-England Club, not dropping a set in a blistering run to the final. It was not a completely easy draw either. She had to defeat four seeds on the way, two of whom were seeded higher than her and one was coming off an upset of Serena Williams.
Already into the fourth round for the first time, she battled past Alize Cornet, who had just ousted Williams before taking out ninth seed and future major champion Angelique Kerber in the quarterfinals. She was the underdog in the semifinals against Simona Halep but the French Open runner-up could not slow the Canadian’s run. It took Petra Kvitova’s raw power and massive lefty serve to finally stop Bouchard in the final.
As the defending runner-up, Bouchard could not turn her 2015 slump around at Wimbledon, crashing out in the first round to a qualifier. The loss of her finals points so her ranking go crashing down, a blow she is still trying to recover from.
How Bouchard’s Game Translates to Grass
Grass has been one of Bouchard’s best surface, if not her very best. Bouchard likes to step in and take the ball early, using her groundstrokes to attack opponents. On the grass, these tactics are very effective since the surface rewards aggression. The Canadian loves to take opponent’s time away and on a surface where players have very little time to begin with, these tactics are extremely effective.
The problem for Bouchard is that she struggles when opponents do to her what she does to her opponents. The Canadian struggles under pressure when she’s stuck on defence. On the slick grass, it’s easier for opponents to attack Bouchard and while she does move well, is not a great defender even on slower surfaces. On the grass, Bouchard can be vulnerable to players who attack her. Especially her opponents who tee off on her weak seconds serve.
If Bouchard is able to step up and play her game, she can be extremely dangerous on grass. But if she gets caught by a stronger or more consistent opponent, she could struggle. Because of her low ranking, she won’t be seeded meaning she could face a top seed in the opening round.