WTA Rogers Cup: Donna Vekic ousts home favourite Genie Bouchard in first round

Croatia’s Donna Vekic broke the hearts of the Toronto fans in the opening round of the Rogers Cup on Tuesday, sending home favourite Eugenie Bouchard packing in straight sets in the opening round. In a back-and-forth match, the young Croatian held her nerve in the big moments and took advantage of some poorly timed errors and late cracks from the Canadian to booked her spot in the second round with a 6-3, 6-4 victory.

Vekic hangs on in wild opener

What looked to be a routine hold to start the match quickly went south for Bouchard as, up 40-15 in her opening service game, she reeled off three straight unforced errors to give Vekic break point. The Croatian sent her return long, as she would again on her second break point as well. After Bouchard saved a third with a textbook serve-forehand combination, she would crack at the fourth time of asking, sending a forehand long to hand Vekic the opening break.

Genie Bouchard lunges for a forehand during her first round loss. Photo: Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images
Genie Bouchard lunges for a forehand during her first round loss. Photo: Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

The nightmare start continued for the Canadian as she was broken again two games later courtesy of two clean return winners from Vekic. Bouchard would speak to her coach during the ensuing changeover which seemed to calm her down as she reclaimed one of the breaks in the following game. However, another series of forehand errors quickly gave Vekic her double break lead back at 4-1.

Now it was the Croatian’s turn to blink, as she would hand the break back in the following game courtesy of a double fault. Bouchard nearly levelled the set at 4-all, but a pair of net cords went the way of the Croatian, allowing her to hold. Serving to stay in the set, Bouchard would crack. She would save three break/set points, all at 40-AD, before sending a backhand long on the fourth to hand Vekic the opening set 6-3.

Late break sinks Bouchard

A far stronger Bouchard came out to start the second set, as she held a break point in the opening game, but drove her backhand wide. She then found herself down break point in her first service game, but unlike the opening set, was able to save it and hold to keep the set on serve. The Canadian then struck to take the lead in the following game, ripping a clean return winner on break point. But once again, she would give the break right back. Vekic stopped a point to correctly challenge that Bouchard’s shot was long to bring up break point. On break point, the Canadian double-faulted to level the set at 2-2.

Vekic strikes a forehand during her win on Tuesday. Photo: Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images
Vekic strikes a forehand during her win on Tuesday. Photo: Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

After the returners dominated the first set and a bit, finally the servers began to control their own fates as the second set progressed. After the pair exchanged their breaks early in the second, neither player would put any pressure on the server until Bouchard found herself serving to stay in the match at 4-5. A sloppy game from the Canadian combined with some brilliant hitting from Vekic saw Bouchard fall behind 15-40, double match point. She saved the first by drawing an error in a long rally, but netted her backhand on the second to end her 2017 campaign in the first round.

By the numbers

Return dominated this match. Bouchard won a mere 59 percent of her first serve points and was constantly punished for missing her first delivery, only winning 31 percent of her second serve points (11 of 36). Vekic was only marginally better, winning 64 percent of her first serve points and 44 percent of her second serves. Bouchard spent too much time defending her own serve in the match, facing 14 break points in all, only saving eight. She converted three of her five chances on Vekic’s serve.

Vekic goes on to face third seed Angelique Kerber in the second round.