Both Genie Bouchard and Felix Auger-Aliassime impressed in their first round wins at the tour-level events in Gstaad and Umag respectively – albeit for different reasons.
Bouchard has struggled in 2018, and a failure to defend crucial points over several events resulted in a tumble down the rankings, relinquishing her spot as Canadian No. 1 for the first time since 2013. The former World No. 5, however, has made changes in her team, which has paid dividends – she won four consecutive matches at Wimbledon and, earlier today, she earned a hard-fought victory over former Top 10’er Timea Bacsinszky.
Bacsinszky, who owns a 2-0 record over Bouchard, has suffered her own tumble down the rankings as a result of an injury that forced her out of Roland Garros, where she was defending semifinalist points from the previous year. In Gstaad, the Swiss was not only the home favourite, but was playing like her former ranking, accelerating to a 6-4, 5-4 lead over Bouchard in their first-round encounter.
The Canadian, however, channeled the fighting spirit that saw her score two crucial victories for Canada in their Fed Cup World Group II playoff tie in April, and completed an inspired 4-6, 7-6(1), 6-4 comeback. Bouchard struck with commitment on each of her shots and demonstrated unwavering focus, something that at times this year had been missing. Up next for the 24-year-old is another Swiss player, Viktorija Golubic.
What a win for @geniebouchard! 🔥
She shows some of that @FedCup fight to come back from a set and a break down to defeat former World No. 9 Timea Bacsinszky 4-6, 7-6(1), 6-4.
— Tennis Canada (@TennisCanada) July 17, 2018
Auger-Aliassime’s victory was a less tumultuous affair, but nevertheless just as impressive. He dismissed Andrej Martin 6-4, 6-3 in Umag, where he was granted a wild card entry. The 17-year-old Canadian earned his first ATP World Tour victory earlier this season in Indian Wells, where he defeated fellow-Canadian Vasek Pospisil to become the first player born in this millennium to win a tour-level match.
Following a few tight defeats at the pro level in April and May, the Canadian rising star made the bold move to forego the grass-court season to focus on building his game on his preferred clay courts. That choice paid off: He defended his ATP Challenger Tour title in Lyon and recorded two other deep runs, allowing him to reach a career-high ranking of World No. 144 this month.
UMAG (Croatia) – ATP 250: Felix Auger Aliassime records his second ATP tour win – defeats No. 157-ranked Andrej Martin of Slovakia 6-4, 6-3. Already at a career high No. 144, the 17-year-old (18 on Aug. 8) will now be a little higher.
— Tom Tebbutt (@tomtebbutt) July 17, 2018
In Umag, Auger-Aliassime showed exactly why he was deserving of the wild card, dispatching Martin with impressive efficiency and the composure of a young player who truly believes he belongs.
The Montreal native will play defending champion and No. 4 seed Andrey Rublev in the second round.
(Feature photo: Mauricio Paiz)