• EN
  • FR
EN FR
Home   News   Tebbutt: Genie takes a step back

Tebbutt: Genie takes a step back

Apr 11, 2017
written by: Tom Tebbutt
written by: Tom Tebbutt

She has played in the ultimate tennis match in the world – the Wimbledon final (2014) and ranked as high as No. 5 in the WTA rankings (2014) – but this week Genie Bouchard will mix it up in the minor leagues of professional tennis, playing the $80,000 ITF event in Indian Harbor Beach, Florida.

Currently ranked No. 56 and on a five-match losing streak dating back to the third round of the Australian Open (Coco Vandeweghe) in January, Bouchard is the top seed at an event officially known as the 12th Annual Revolution Technologies Pro Tennis Classic.

The 23-year-old has been taken a lot of flak lately for her disappointing performances, with some people suggesting she’s distracted by outside activities such as appearing in, and doing publicity for, the 2017 Sport Illustrated swimsuit issue as well as by her highly-publicized New York City date with an American college student after losing a Super Bowl bet on Twitter.

Just last week, playing in the $250,000 WTA International event in Monterrey, Mexico, Bouchard was beaten 7-6(8), 6-3 by No. 98-ranked Sara Sorribes Tormo of Spain. She had 46 unforced errors in that match.

Photo by: Mauricio Paiz

It was the fourth in a line of losses to lower-ranked players that included Ajla Tomljanovic in Acapulco (no ranking due to injury), Annika Beck in Indian Wells (No. 61) and Ashleigh Barty (above) in Miami (No. 91).

Bouchard has said she pulled out of the WTA Premier 5 event in Dubai in mid-February because of an abdominal strain and she has had a series of similar issues in 2015 and 2016, including a grade two tear when she played her opening round at Wimbledon in 2015 against doctor’s advice and lost to little-known Duan Ying Ying of China.

It’s entirely possible the abdominal problem has affected both her training and how well she could play in some of her matches.

That aside, the loss to Sorribes Tormo, 20, last week had to be a crusher – especially because she was believed to have been paid an appearance fee and was one of the most highly-touted names in the field.

On such a poor run of form, it might have been expected that Bouchard would either take a break to retrench and recalibrate or spend time training at her home base in Miami. Instead she has travelled about 200 miles north on the east coast of Florida to play the Challenger level event.

It seems to indicate her determination to regain some confidence by playing a lower-tier tournament. But it doesn’t come without risk because there are players in the field who have rankings similar to the ones she has been losing to lately – including the No. 100-ranked American Madison Brengle, who’s the second seed, and Bouchard’s old junior rival and 2012 Wimbledon doubles champion partner, No. 104-ranked Taylor Townsend of the U.S. Also in the draw is No. 162 Alla Kudryavtseva of Russia, who beat Bouchard in the second round of the National Bank Cup in Quebec City last September.

Bouchard’s opening-round opponent will be a qualifier (the highest-ranked player in the qualifying is above No. 500) and then she would play either No. 235-ranked Jennifer Elie, 29, of the U.S. or No. 305 Anhelina Kalinina, 20, of Ukraine. Should she make it further, there’s a potential quarter-final meeting with Tomljanovic.

This week in Indian Harbor Beach there will not be all of the amenities of a higher-level WTA event but, at least by the picture here of the host Kiwi Tennis Club, it’s taking place at a pretty posh site featuring 13 courts, nine of which are Har-Tru clay, the tournament surface.

Public admittance to the event is free until the Friday evening quarter-finals session, which costs $15, and then it’s $20 for the semifinals and $25 for the final.

A year ago at this time, Bouchard went 3-3 at clay-court tournaments in Madrid, Rome and at Roland Garros, accumulating 175 of her current 965 ranking points. The Indian Harbor Beach winner will receive 130 WTA ranking points

This week’s tournament marks the first time Bouchard has played a non-WTA level event since she lost in the second round of a $75,000 ITF tournament on grass in June 2013, in Nottingham, England.

It’s all a bit of a gamble for her. But clearly she and coach Thomas Hogstedt believe trying to win at a lower-level event is the right step in rebuilding her self-belief and getting in more match play.

There’s definitely a considerable amount of swallowing her pride in doing this – and for that Bouchard deserves credit, and good-luck wishes.

HOME SWEET HOME FOR CANADA

Location, location, location is a common catchphrase in the real estate business and it also applies in Davis Cup. In Tuesday’s draw in London for this year’s World Group play-offs from Sept. 15-17, Canada avoided a 14-hours plus, or more than 11,000 kilometres (7,000 miles), trip to India and will host the Indians at home.

It continues a run of good fortune in Davis Cup draws – Canada has received home ground for the eighth time in the last 10 draws dating back to its first year back in the World Group in 2012. The only two times it has been drawn to play away were in 2014 versus Japan in Tokyo and 2016 against France in Guadeloupe.

India, which defeated New Zealand (3-1) and Uzbekistan (3-0) in February and April ties in Asia/Oceania Group I competition to reach the September play-off, doesn’t have a very imposing singles line-up. The three players who have played singles so far this year are No. 269-ranked Ramkumar Ramanathan, 22, No. 286 Prajnesh Gunneswaran, 27, and No. 285 Yuki Bambri, 24.

In doubles, the top Indians are 37-year-old Rohan Bopanna, No. 24, and 43-year-old Leander Paes, No. 53. The two don’t get along and each played one tie this year with a different partner.

In the Davis Cup rankings, Canada is No. 16 to No. 18 for India which, despite its lack of top-flight singles players, is ranked ahead of countries such as the Netherlands, Brazil and Portugal.

All of Canada’s potential singles players – No. 6 Milos Raonic, No. 119 Vasek Pospisil and No. 172 Denis Shapovalov are ranked higher than the Indians and the host nation has solid doubles options as well with Daniel Nestor at No. 22, Pospisil at No. 26 and Adil Shamasdin at No. 65.

Speculation will begin about where in Canada the World Group play-off might be held. Considering it takes place just five days after the end of the US Open in New York, somewhere in central Canada would appear most likely, with the obvious choices being Tennis Canada’s permanent outdoor facilities at Aviva Centre in Toronto or Stade Uniprix in Montreal.

It will be the first-ever Davis Cup meeting between India and Canada.

This past weekend the Davis Cup World Group quarter-final action was about as tame as has been seen for quite a while. There were no down-to-the-wire, fifth-match dramas as Australia beat the USA 3-1, Belgium defeated Italy 3-1, France blanked an Andy Murray-less Great Britain 3-0 and Serbia easily handled a Rafael Nadal-less Spain 3-0. In each case the home side won.

Looking ahead it will be Australia travelling to Belgium and Serbia playing in France in the semifinals September 15-17. That’s just five days after the hard-court final of the US Open in New York so it’s not unreasonable to imagine both France and Belgium hosting on a clay court to make things uncomfortable for the leaders of the respective visiting teams, Novak Djokovic and Nick Kyrgios.

Kyrgios deserves recognition for his sparkling play last weekend in defeating both John Isner and Sam Querrey in straight sets in Brisbane on a hard court.

Maybe the most fascinating potential final from November 24-26 would be France versus Australia, with the Aussies having the choice of ground.

Kyrgios, along with Roger Federer, is the ascendant player of the moment, possibly having found the maturity to allow him to fulfill the promise of his exceptional talent.

One note of concern, he has had impressive results the last four weeks in Indian Wells, Miami and in Davis Cup against the Americans and he’s entered in next week’s Monte Carlo Open. It’s a long spring and summer away from home for the soon-to-be 22-year-old Aussie if you consider the French Open and Wimbledon, and the lead-up tournaments to those huge events. Kyrgios has shown a susceptibility to injury in the recent past and you wonder if he might be better to use the next few weeks to rest and re-coup. Maybe a return to competition at the Mutua Madrid Open the second week of May might make more sense.

But then his girlfriend, Ajla Tomljanovic, is playing the same ITF event in Florida as Genie Bouchard this week, so maybe he has another reason for not hanging around home in Australia for too long.

CANADIAN KUDOS

  1. A tip of the cap to Filip Peliwo who won the fifth ITF Futures title of his career, defeating No. 226-ranked Aldin Setkic of Bosnia 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 in the final of the $15,000 event in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, on Sunday.

Peliwo, currently sporting much longer hair than in the picture here, upset top seed Gleb Sakharov of France 7-6(6), 5-7, 6-2 in the first round.

He also took the doubles title playing with the 29-year-old Setkic.

Currently ranked No. 530, the win should move him up to about No. 450. The career singles ATP high for the 23-year-old from Vancouver was No. 223 in April 2014.

He’s playing another $15,000 Futures in Sharm El Sheikh this week and is seeded fifth.

  1. As a result of her victory at the ITF Futures event in Santa Margherita di Pula, Italy two weeks ago, 16-year-old Bianca Andreescu of Mississauga, Ont., has now moved up to No. 189 in the WTA rankings. That makes her the No. 2-ranking Canadian ahead of No. 194 Francoise Abanda, 20, of Montreal.