By Jane Voigt
Daniel Island, S. C., April 4, 2014 — Eugenie Bouchard is the real deal.
The 20-year-old Canadian arrived at Family Circle Cup for her inaugural tournament ranked outside the top 100, last year. She had to qualify for the main draw then ran away with matches until she faced Jelena Jankovic in the quarterfinals. That was it for Bouchard.
Not this year.
Bouchard got a second chance against Jankovic today, as fate would have it. She demonstrated all her game improvements and composed fighter’s mind and defeated Jankovic, the highest remaining seed at No. 2. Scoreline: 63 46 63.
“Well, I didn’t want it to be Groundhog Day, for sure,” Bouchard said, smiling. “When I got to the court I didn’t think about that, but definitely a little funny situation there.”
Jankovic was not at her best, on court or off. As she walked in the press conference, she sighed as if on her last leg.
“I started well, then dropped a level,” Jankovic started, slumped in the chair. “I was kind of a little bit flat. I let her take control of the match. I was trying to fight. I tried to move her a bit better. But at the end I was flat. I needed to move my feet more.”
Bouchard had her ups and downs throughout the match, too. But her constant and consistence tactic to take the ball early was one key to her success.
“I think it was a factor,” Bouchard said. “I was moving forward, trying to take time away from her. She can run down a lot of balls, so it was important to take it to her.”
They all know tennis is a running game, but if you win a singles match and lose a doubles match late the same day in a super tiebreak 16-14 and don’t get to bed until midnight and have to get up and play at 1 the next day, well, Jankovic’s energy was tapped.
“It’s not easy when you play your first time on clay and you play a lot of matches and you get tired,” Jankovic said. “It takes a little bit of time to get match tough on this surface. The legs get so sore.”
Jankovic (pictured left, Photo credit tennisclix.com) does not think Bouchard has improved much since she played her last year, which goes against the flow of opinions.
“It was so close,” she said. “It was a few points here and there that made the difference.”
But Bouchard’s intensity chipped away at Jankovic.
Balls zipped back. “I did not turn to hit the ball clean.” She waited for the ball. “I was waiting for the ball to come to me, not that I move up and do the right thing.”
Jankovic complimented Bouchard’s game, in the end, and how well she played. Her predictions for the Canadian remained tempered, though.
“She has nothing to lose right now,” Jankovic said. “She’s not the favorite. She’ll be one of those when she’s expected to win. Then it will be a little bit different. Now she can let loose against the top seeds. She’s young and fresh and hungry. But who am I to predict? But I think she has a great future ahead of her.”
Bouchard, the No. 6 seed, is an amazement to witness. Yes, her tennis game is good. She is way talented. And she possesses an attitude that is beyond her young years. She can thank her parents, Coach Nick Saviano, and herself for this tennis excellence — her Bouchardism.
However at times Eugenie’s words seemed out of place, as if articulated by a woman 10 years older and 50 years to the wise.
But is she wise? Not so much only because of her age.
However when asked about moving through a match, like point by point forgetting the mess, or not, left behind, she sounded precocious, “I’ve learned over the years to not get too high after a win or too low after a loss, and within a match as well, you know. The point you just played, well, it’s already in the past. You want to take what you can to learn from it, if you miss a certain shot and just moving your feet more, staying lower, little things. But really you can’t control it, so it’s important for me to just remember to focus on what I can control on the court, and it’s something I’ve been working on for the past few years. It’s a work in progress.”
Stay closely tuned to this young woman. She will progress. She will have defeats. And, she will grow in front of our eyes.