If there’s one regret Genie Bouchard would have after losing 6-4, 6-4 to Timea Bacsinszky on Thursday at the French Open it would be not stepping it up once she got ahead 4-1 in the first set.

That scoreline was a combination of her heavy hitting and a shaky start by the 26-year-old Swiss.

But from 1-4 down, Bacsinszky progressively assumed control to the extent that she was able to win 10 games in a row and lead 5-0 in the second set. Bouchard did make a valiant fight-back but it fell short as a result of two unforced errors when she had a pair of game points to make it 5-all.

“I started out strong,” Bouchard said. “The game plan was working. I think I lost focus a little bit. With her back a little bit against the wall she definitely raised her level.”

A bitterly disappointed Bouchard hardly needed to add, “it’s unacceptable really to lose 10 games in a row in a match.”

As for No. 9-ranked Bacsinszky, she claimed she had trouble in the beginning getting her bearings on the grand, spacious Court Philippe Chatrier. She added about her match-up with Bouchard, “the last time we played (a Bacsinszky 6-2, 5-7, 6-2 win in Indian Wells in March) I varied my shots a lot – in rhythm and height. The conditions were different today – that was on hard courts with a high bounce and this was on a slow clay court.

“I knew that she was expecting my variety and my drop shots – if I’m not mistaken she said as much in the press two days ago. The first drop shot I hit she was there in two steps. So I said to myself, ‘ok, we’ll do something else.’ I wanted to move her around, open up the court and hit deep.”

Bouchard would later concede, “she was a bit more aggressive than I expected. What woke me up in that second set was I realized I needed to be that one stepping into the court more.”

She admitted that she “saved face a little bit” with the comeback to 4-5, 15-40 on the Bacsinszky serve in the second set. But with two tries to get level she couldn’t make the final leap. “(I was) definitely disappointed in that game,” Bouchard said. “I think after 15-40 I made four unforced errors. At least I put myself in that position. It’s disappointing to not follow through once I was in that position. Again, (I) got a little bit ahead of myself. Against a Top 10 player they’ll never let you get away with that.”

Photo by: Peter Figura

Bacsinszky insisted she had not lost any belief as Bouchard rallied in the second set. “At 5-4, 15-40, I realized things could be complicated but I had confidence in my qualities as a fighter to find a solution,” she said. “And I believed in my fitness and would have been ready to play a third set.”

While the combative juices are definitely flowing again in Bouchard, she probably still hasn’t got enough match play against the top echelon of players to make her as competitive as she would like. Over the last 12 months, Bouchard has only played two other Top 12 opponents – a loss to No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska at the Australian Open and a win over No. 2 Angelique Kerber in Rome two weeks ago. Bacsinszky, over the same period, has faced eleven Top 12 players and has a 5-6 record against them.

Photo by: Peter Figura
Photo by: Peter Figura

Despite fading in the first part of the second set, Bouchard still felt her tennis is there. “What’s the most disappointing is my game feels good, my shots feel good,” she said. “I feel good on the court.”

She now shifts to grass courts and will play all three weeks of Wimbledon grass-court prep events beginning in two weeks in Rosmalen, Netherlands.

“I expected a tough match,” Bacsinszky said about playing Bouchard, “and it just goes to show that she’s in the process of coming back and will be a player who has to be dealt with over the next few years.”

Photo by: Peter Figura
Photo by: Peter Figura

Bouchard, who should move up a bit from her current No. 47 ranking after winning a round at Roland Garros, understands she has to be patient after her struggles in 2015.

“Like I said, my game actually feels good, my shots feel good, my movement feels good,” she said. “So I think it hurts a bit more knowing I can play really well right now.

“I know it’s a long process and a long journey. When I restarted (last month) working with Nick (coach Saviano), we talked about a long-term plan. Of course immediate results would be great, but it’s trying to improve over the long run to become the best player I can be.

“So that’s talking months, a year, or more. I have to kind of keep that in my head that that’s the ultimate goal. But I know my game is there. If you can put it all together, immediate results are possible as well.”

It’s an obvious fact that the Genie Bouchard of this year’s French Open is not the lost soul tennis player of 12 months ago. But she is also not quite the fearless, almost bullet-proof wunderkind of 2014 when she reached the semifinals and led eventual champion Maria Sharapova by a set and was even at 5-5 in the second set.

She appears to have put 2015 safely behind her, so clawing back to the form of 2014 is the next order of business but it likely will be a tougher challenge the second time around.

Milos vs. Andrej Martin

Photo by: Peter Figura
Photo by: Peter Figura

This is a personal note on Andrej Martin, the 26-year-old Slovak who will face Milos Raonic in a third-round match on Friday.

In January 2011, Raonic was just a raw 20-year-old ranked No. 156 and playing the Australian Open qualifying.

He got through two rounds and faced Martin for a spot in the main draw. The Slovak won the first set 6-4 and was up a break in the second. Raonic grew increasingly agitated as his second chance to play in the main draw of a Grand Slam event (2010 US Open) seemed to be slipping away. The match was played on a court that no longer exists – right beside the lower stadium at Melbourne Park now known as Show Court 3.

Raonic was losing his cool and looking over plaintively at his coach Galo Blanco, who was one of about 10 spectators in the stands. He was completely out of sorts, beside himself with his ineffectual play.

Martin, on the other hand, was calm and workmanlike, going about his business in an exemplary manner.

But suddenly Raonic got the break back in the second set and began playing the kind of tennis we have since learned that he is capable of. The eventual second-set tiebreak was a disaster for Martin. He lost it 7-0. The third set was one-way traffic and Raonic took it 6-2 and qualified to play Bjorn Pfau of Germany in the main draw on his way to reaching the round-of-16 in what turned out to be the breakout event of his career.

I felt badly for Martin because he did everything right, kept playing his game and behaving impeccably. But, once Raonic had somehow fought through his frustrations and reached his level, it was just way too good for Martin, a 5-foot-11, 159-pound serviceable professional. Raonic’s class prevailed and he wound up simply overwhelming the Slovak.

Since that time I have always had a weak spot for Martin and occasionally noted his name in results – none of them overly impressive.

This is his 16th Grand Slam event and only the second time he has qualified – the other was at the 2013 US Open where he lost in the first round to Mikhail Kukushkin – and he only got into this Roland Garros as a lucky loser when Alexandr Dolgopolov withdrew.

His career-high ranking is No. 119 (2013) and he has never beaten a Top 10 player but does have six titles on the Challenger tour.

To reach the match-up with Raonic, Martin won four-setters against No. 105-ranked Daniel Munoz de la Nava of Spain and No. 29 seed Lucas Pouille of France. Still, with the memory of that Aussie Open match in January 2011 in mind, it’s hard to see any result in Friday’s match but a resounding victory for Raonic over the current world No. 133. But then, as the legendary Jimmy Connors always said, “that’s why they put up the net.”   

Pospisil/Sock do it in doubles


Vasek Pospisil and Jack Sock are playing in their eighth Grand Slam event and have compiled a 16-6 record together highlighted by a 2014 Wimbledon title in their very first tournament.

Since then their best Grand Slam result has been quarter-finals of the French Open last year and quarter-finals of the Australian Open this past January.

On Thursday, as the seventh seeds, they began their 2016 French Open with a 6-1, 7-5 victory over Thomaz Bellucci of Brazil and Martin Klizan of Slovakia.

“We played well when we had to but the energy of the match was not very high,” Pospisil said about Thursday’s match. “It felt like everybody was sleeping a bit even though the quality was pretty good.”

About their team’s style of play on clay compared to other surfaces, Pospisil noted, “it doesn’t change things very much but obviously it’s maybe better for Jack to play on clay because he has more time for his forehand. But it doesn’t really change our tactics in any way.”

After a one-sided 6-3, 6-2, 6-1 loss to Tomas Berdych in singles on Tuesday, the 25-year-old Vancouverite managed to bounce back well. “I didn’t feel great before the match going out there,” he said, “but I ended up playing a good match so I’m happy for that.”


Next up for Pospisil and Sock will be a match-up against Frenchmen Julien Benneteau and Edouard Roger-Vasselin. “We have a tough one now,” Pospisil said. “Hopefully we can get through it. They’re definitely one of the better teams on the tour and they’ll have the crowd support so it’s a good challenge for us.” 

Paris postcard



Anyone walking to the French Open along avenue de la Porte d’Auteuil from the two Metro stops located nearby has passed this impressive gate.

Adjacent the tennis site, the “Ville de Paris – Etablissement Horticule” figures in the Roland Garros expansion plan that has been blocked so far by local residents battling it in the courts citing the historic value of some greenhouses (visible in the picture) located there. So far they have been successful and a French tennis journalist recently lamented the fact that about 30 litigious and obsessed neighbours can stop the expansion of such an important project. “Only in France,” he sighed.