Having risen into the Top 10 worldwide rankings, the expectations for Eugenie Bouchard to excel in the Rogers Cup were extremely high. Competing in her hometown of Montreal, homecourt advantage resulted in an unforeseen second round exit. Her skyrocketing popularity resulted in Rogers Cup ticket sales hitting a new record.
The loss showed that Bouchard was human. With a newfound celebrity status, Bouchard has graced the covers of popular French-Canadian magazines such as Elle Quebec and La Semaine, along with a TV endorsement for food company Pinty’s (endorsements with giants such as Coca-Cola and Nike are looming). The pressure to play in front of friends and family (her twin sister Beatrice also plays tennis), a combination of youth and pressure that comes with growing in the game made for the perfect storm.
While the loss to Shelby Rogers, ranked 113th in the world (6-0, 2-6, 6-0), symbolized growing pains in her career. Considering the talent and promise that Bouchard possesses, this loss should be seen by her as a bump in the road. Her maturity will certainly be tested as this loss is a crossroads that must result in Bouchard learning from it and moving on, rather than the ascent into a downward spiral that has plagued many other tennis prodigies.
Sadly, Bouchard was heard saying to her coach Nick Saviano that she wanted to get off the court. Of note, Saviano was once the coach of Jennifer Capriati, who burned out as a teenager in tennis. Having also coached Jim Courier, a former grand slam champion, Saviano, who has coached Bouchard since she was 12, knows how to help her bounce back.
At this point, fans and media alike must need to realize that she is still at a tender age in her career and that patience must be shown. Such a rapid rise to success will result in Bouchard becoming a target, forcing her to put her career and approach to winning in perspective.
An emotional adjustment may still be needed in order to absorb everything that has transpired in what has still emerged as a memorable year. Maria Sharapova, who is Bouchard’s idol, won her first Wimbledon event at the age of 17. Being so popular at such a young age, Sharapova endured some tough years before finding her groove and becoming one of the world’s most recognizable athletes.
As the first Canadian (and only WTA player this year) to reach the semifinals of the first three Grand Slam events this year, she has earned more than $2 million in prize money this year alone. Despite such success, there were seven tournaments this year in which she lost her first match at an event.
Rust can also be attributed as a factor in her loss. Taking into account that this was her first match since losing to Petra Kvitova in the final of Wimbledon, she was not prepared. As a side note, she played against Rogers when they were training as juniors in Florida, and had lost to her before. Prior to beating Bouchard, Rogers had played in three other matches at the Rogers Cup. A few weeks earlier, she reached the finals of a tournament held in Bad Gastein, Austria.
Stacey Allaster, a Canadian who helps to run the WTA Tour may have put it into perspective best when she stated that it is a marathon and not a sprint. For the 20 year old Bouchard, and her devoted fans known as the Genie Army (who the WTA will fly to Singapore should she qualify for the season closing finals there), her career is certainly still at the marathon point, with many more great moments to come.