Eugenie Bouchard picked up her maiden win of the new season with a 7-6 (1), 6-2 win over Shuai Zhang at the Apia International Sydney. The Canadian took a late wild card into the event after a first-round loss last week in Brisbane.
Bouchard takes opening set in tie-break after squandering early lead
With the year's first major, the Australian Open, a week away, Bouchard needed some confidence heading into Melbourne and she got off to a bright start. After a hold, she held a 15-40 lead on the Chinese's first service game, but some good serving got her level at 1-1. It wasn't long before she'd find herself on top, breaking in the fourth game with a backhand passing shot to go ahead 3-1.
After a hold consolidated her advantage, she almost shut the door on the set, holding a break point for a possible 5-1 lead, but Zhang saved her skin and held. After an exchange of easy holds, Zhang held a 0-40 lead on the Bouchard lead and after saving one, she couldn't save any more as Zhang broke to get the set back on serve.
After that, each woman held to send the set to a tie-break where Bouchard dominated, holding a 6-0 lead before eventually winning it 7-1 thanks to numerous Zhang unforced errors.
Bouchard runs away with second set to advance
The momentum gained by winning the tie-break in such easy fashion carried over to the second set as she broke in the opening game. After a solid hole and a love break, Bouchard was firmly on the front foot, ahead 3-0. Zhang was struggling in all facets of her game, especially off the ground and after falling behind even further, finally got on the board with a hold, albeit much too late to alter the outcome of the match.
Bouchard's serve was firing well and ahead 5-1 after a love hold, she sought to close out the match, getting to deuce on five occasions on the Zhang serve, but the Chinese held to force Bouchard to serve it out, which she did, saving two break points and closing the match out with an ace.