Eugenie Bouchard – add that name to the roll call of emerging young female talent at Wimbledon 2013. In fact, put an asterisk against Bouchard as a name particularly to remember - Martina Navratilova, no less, describes her as “a potential Grand Slam champion”, which is some going for a 19-year-old currently ranked No.66. In the second round at Wimbledon 2013, Bouchard made her Centre Court debut at 15 minutes’ notice when her match against Ana Ivanovic was abruptly switched from No.12 Court following Victoria Azarenka’s late withdrawal through injury. Was the Canadian overawed? On the contrary, she forced Ivanovic into error after error, dismissing the former world No.1 and 2008 Roland Garros champion 6-3, 6-3 in just over the hour.
“That was very impressive,” applauded nine-times Wimbledon champion Navratilova. “She showed very great composure mentally, rising to the occasion. I like everything – she showed great shot selection and held up well under pressure, she has a technically sound game and she constructs points well. If she continues like this she will be top 20 at least by the end of the year. I don’t want to say a star is born but we have seen a potential Grand Slam champion here.”
No wonder Bouchard is Canada’s brightest women’s prospect since Carling Bassett reached the world No.8 spot 28 years ago. A non-identical twin, she is good mates with fellow emerging star Laura Robson, who calls Bouchard her “bestie” (best friend) – this despite the fact that Bouchard beat the higher-ranked Robson in Charleston this year, one of two top 50 wins to her name before Wimbledon. Having finished 2012 ranked 144, she arrived here as the No.66 and may leave SW19 in the top 50. It is only 12 months since she won both the junior singles and doubles here - this week she posted a proud photograph of herself next to her name on the Wimbledon roll of honour for her 15,000 Twitter followers. Judging by the manner of her victory over Ivanovic, she may yet find her name on another roll of honour here one day.
The Serb – who will now surrender her nation’s No.1 ranking to Jelena Jankovic – could not get a foothold in the match. Bouchard fended off two break points in the first game and from there was never headed. Having produced a fighting rally to volley past Ivanovic for break point, she watched Ivanovic double fault and it was 2-0. Entirely unruffled by the Centre Court stage, she neutralised Ivanovic’s higher number of winners by forcing her into three times as many errors, quite beside the mistakes Ivanovic produced without prompting. When it came to serving out the set, she did so to love.
Bouchard compounded her advantage by breaking to love at the start of the second and although Ivanovic got it back on serve, it was only momentary – moreover, Bouchard took the double break for 5-2. Serving for the match, she wobbled briefly and Ivanovic got one back, only to double fault to gift two match points. Out-thought and outplayed, Ivanovic had no answer.
“It was so crazy and great to play in front of the Centre Court crowd,” said Bouchard. “It’s classy here. This feels like my second home here and I love the big crowd on the biggest stage in tennis. I was so excited, but I also believed that I belonged there and that I could play her. I was prepared for anything. I dominated on my serve, but I was really focusing on the returns, and then once I’d got the ball back into play, controlling the point from there. I think I did that pretty well. I was nervous serving it out at the end but I’d broken her before so I knew I could do it again.”
20:08It brings me no pleasure but it's time to bring the curtain down for another year. Seemed somehow appropriate to leave the last word to Roger Federer. Thanks a billion for reading. What a fortnight, what a final, fast forward to 2015 please...
20:03"I already have seven. It's not like I need another one. But it would have been awfully nice to have it. I think that's what the feeling was of the people, and I felt that... I know they love tennis. They love tennis after we're all gone."View all