The Canadian ladies’s tennis panorama contains a former star, a present star and a rising star.
The present star — 2019 U.S. Open champion Bianca Andreescu — has been out of motion for practically one yr with a collection of accidents. She was unable to defend her title on the U.S. Open earlier this month and is prone to not play the French Open, which begins Monday in Paris, after withdrawing from this week’s Italian Open with a knee damage.
The opposite two — veteran Eugenie Bouchard and teenage Leylah Annie Fernandez — enter the French Open using some relative highs.
Bouchard, the 26-year-old from Westmount, Que., and former world No. 5, reached the ultimate of the Istanbul Open on Sunday earlier than dropping in three units to Romania’s Patricia Maria Tig. The success represented Bouchard’s first remaining look because the Malaysian Open in 2016.
It was one other signal, following her hard-fought quarter-final loss to No. 20 Elise Mertens on the Prague Open in August, that Bouchard may lastly be rounding again into kind.The efficiency helped her earn a main-draw wild card for this yr’s event.
WATCH | Bouchard wins semifinal at Istanbul Open:
It is also been a season filled with promise for Fernandez, who heads to Roland Garros sporting a career-high rating of 98. The 18-year-old from Montreal gained her first Grand Slam match on the U.S. open within the first spherical in opposition to Russia’s Vera Zvonareva earlier than falling to second seed Sofia Kenin.
Now unburdened of expectations, Bouchard rose from 272 to 167 in world rankings following her Istanbul success.
“She’s bucked up a bit. And I actually assume she appears to be like like a significantly better athlete than she’s been prior to now,” Tennis Canada analyst Tom Tebbutt stated. “So, you understand, she’s in good situation and she or he’s match sufficient, I feel, to play actually good tennis, whether or not that is prime 50, prime 30, prime 20, prime 10, I do not know. … However I imply, she has that pedigree and she or he’s a extremely, actually good tennis participant.”
Bouchard spent the WTA season suspension in Las Vegas working with Andre Agassi’s former coach Gil Reyes, often known as one of many hardest health enforcers within the sport.
Usually riddled with criticism about her dedication to excellence, Tebbutt stated the transfer to Reyes reveals Bouchard’s deal with getting again on monitor.
“Bouchard has pulled herself up by her bootstraps. She’s actually, actually labored exhausting in Las Vegas. And Gil Reyes is perhaps one of many very, absolute best guys to work with to get her match. She’s received the fundamental health factor. Now, that is not a priority for her anymore.”
‘Resembles what she was once’
After taking the primary set 6-2 in opposition to Tig in Istanbul, Tebbutt theorizes that Bouchard merely ran out of steam after a protracted week that included qualifying. In the meantime, Tig had her husband and little one within the stands which appeared to guide to some impressed tennis.
The loss does not take away from the truth that Bouchard appears to have discovered a groove.
“Should you watch her play, it actually resembles what she was once. It isn’t just like the error-prone factor that was happening and off for the final three or 4 years,” Tebbutt stated.
Tebbutt stated one signal to look at for with Bouchard is her swing volley. A troublesome shot for many, the forehand shot was as soon as Bouchard’s bread and butter and Tebbutt stated it is as soon as once more turn into a weapon for the Canadian.
For Bouchard, the pure expertise has all the time existed — you do not get to No. 5 on the earth by chance. As a substitute, it was the psychological facet of tennis that performed a big half in derailing Bouchard’s profession for a time.
“My concept has been there’s too many scars,” Tebbutt stated. “You simply assume it’s best to win and you retain getting strengthened by the very fact you might be successful and swiftly you begin dropping to folks and also you simply do not have that primary confidence or free-swinging really feel on the courtroom since you’ve had these setbacks.”
Emergence of Fernandez
Fernandez gained the junior French Open title in 2019 and stays on the level of her profession the place expectations have but to meet up with success. Tebbutt stated it is paying homage to the place Bouchard stood earlier than her Grand Slam runs.
“Fernandez simply crunches each single shot and she or he’s in that bulletproof section that Bouchard was in proper now,” he stated. “And he or she hasn’t had too many setbacks. She has a whole lot of confidence. She’s had good outcomes. So she’s a really, very promising participant.”
WATCH | Fernandez falls to Kenin at U.S. Open:
In some methods, coping with the burden of success is an effective downside to have. At 18, it is a spot to which Fernandez strives. For now, although, it is child steps: qualify for the Australian, win a match on the U.S., after which perhaps take a pair on the French.
At simply five-foot-four, Fernandez could possibly be restricted by her stature, although the truth that she’s left-handed makes up for it some.
“No person needs to play in opposition to her as a result of she’s gung-ho and she or he’s received a really, very aggressive sport and she or he does not ever let up and she or he’s completely intense and completely bold. So she undoubtedly can win a spherical or two or three,” Tebbutt stated.