The first set of the Genie Bouchard – Evgeniya Rodina opening-round match at the US Open on Wednesday was not a matter of holding serve. It was all about holding sun – winning games on the south or shady side of the court.

“I found it quite tricky,” Bouchard would later say about the sun. “Obviously it’s the same for both so I’m not complaining. But it’s tough.”

Matters went ‘on sun’ until Bouchard held serve facing into the sun at 5-all. She won the game with a bold backhand winner and seemed poised to break her Russian opponent as Rodina served to stay in the set from the sun-in-your-face end of the court.

It had been sketchy play from both players up to that point, with no indication that either one was in the ascendance or about to take control.

But that changed dramatically at that very point – Rodina held serve to love on four points that can only be described as being decided by egregious unforced errors by Bouchard. At the very moment she would have been expected to pounce on a vulnerable opponent, Bouchard lost complete touch with her game.

That continued into the ensuing tiebreak as she dropped the first four points on errors – although the second one was unfortunate for her as she belted a deep, aggressive service return that was called good only to have Rodina challenge and Hawk-Eye show that the ball was out by millimetres. Two more unforced errors and Rodina had a 4-0 lead, and all the separation she needed to wrap up the tiebreak 7-2 and the set in 51 minutes.

Bouchard broke to win the opening game of the second set and took a 15-love lead in the second game but a double-fault to 15-30 and she was back into an error-strewn funk. She would later admit, “my confidence is not high at all at this point in time – I definitely had question marks about what my level would be like coming out today.”

It didn’t get any better – actually worse – as the second set gradually drew to its increasingly inevitable conclusion – winding up in 34 minutes to make the final score an unflattering 7-6(2), 6-1 in favour of the No. 89-ranked Rodina, a 28-year-old who had only won two matches in four previous appearances at the US Open. Bouchard had seven victories in the same number of times at Flushing Meadows.

Rodina deserves some credit for playing a consistent match and this observer was actually surprised when she missed a forehand into the net late in the second set because she had been making so few unforced errors.

The final count was 18 unforced errors for Rodina (just five in the second set) and 46 overall for Bouchard, who did manage to dominate the winners stat by a 26-16 margin.

After the match Bouchard was asked if she had thought about changing anything in her game as the match started to get away from her. “No matter what style you play,” she replied bluntly, “it doesn’t matter if you don’t move your feet and bend your knees – those were the basics that weren’t there today.”

It would make sense that the unproductive run she has been on recently – “I haven’t won many matches lately” was the answer she gave when asked about her lack of confidence – is partly responsible for her not moving up to par on court. The mental side can certainly affect the physical side in tennis.

As for the experience of returning to the US Open where she fell in the locker room and suffered a concussion after reaching the round-of-16 two years ago – and is still involved in ongoing litigation with the USTA over the accident – Bouchard said that it did not have “any effect on my game but somewhere deep in my head are memories of what happened here.”

She admitted to being “surprised” to be assigned to play in Arthur Ashe Stadium, but added that “it’s always an amazing opportunity to play on the biggest tennis court in the world.”

Summing up her feelings after what ended up being a disastrous outing, Bouchard said, “I hadn’t been feeling good on the court and recently I’d felt a little bit better [losing competitive matches to Donna Vekic (Rogers Cup – Toronto) and Agnieszka Radwanska (New Haven) and beating Lauren Davis (New Haven)], so it’s disappointing to have a performance like that in a Grand Slam, the last Grand Slam of the year.”

She added about offering any further explanations, “I’m still in the shock of the match.”

Play began at 11:21 a.m. and cavernous Ashe Stadium was never close to even a third full, making it not the greatest of atmospheres for a match. There was one moment of levity during the changeover after the ninth game of the first set when the P.A. system played the song “Calendar Girl” and then showed its 78-year-old singer/composer Neil Sedaka (above) –better known for his hit “Breaking Up is Hard To Do” – in the front row of the stands up on the jumbo screen.

Bouchard’s immediate plans are to play the Coupe Banque Nationale WTA event in Quebec City beginning on September 11th.

As for the possibility of making any changes in her team, she said, “maybe, but it’s a little soon at the moment. I haven’t really processed what’s happened. It’ll take time.”

A year ago, Bouchard lost in the first round at the US Open so her current No. 76 ranking should be basically unchanged.


Vasek Pospisil’s US Open in singles ended after one set on Wednesday when he had to retire trailing Fernando Verdasco 6-2. (The picture here is of Pospisil with Verdasco as they await the arrival of a trainer who essentially made the retirement official.)

“I was having back issues for the last week but they weren’t severe and then I was practising on Monday and collapsed on the court and couldn’t get up,” Pospisil said. He explained how, while down, he had reached for a ball going past, which made things worse.

He stood up during changeovers (a suggestion by the trainers) against Verdasco to avoid the back seizing up but ultimately it proved too big a risk to continue.

Pospisil had an anti-inflammatory injection on Tuesday before his match but he ended up not playing (rain) and thought an extra day off would help. “But this (Wednesday) morning I couldn’t get out of bed at all – I was stuck for 10 minutes before I could even get out,” he said. “I had another injection before the match which actually made me feel a bit better. Any time I’d sit down the other day, I’d block up completely.

“It wasn’t so much the pain on the court – it was just that I felt really unstable. I felt that if I tried really hard one point I could do something bad to it.”

Pospisil, who hadn’t hit a ball since Monday, added that it may be the worst pain he has felt in his back but the problem still may not be as serious as in 2014 when his back issue also involved pain down his leg.

The bottom line is that he will have an MRI later Wednesday and then decide if he will play the doubles event with Nenad Zimonjic – although he did not sound optimistic.

In the picture above, Pospisil is walking back from the match with one of the coaches he’s working with, Dirk Hordorff the long-time coach of former German player Rainer Schuettler. Also with him in New York is Jan de Witt, currently mainly involved with Gilles Simon.

The retirement against Verdasco joins some other ill-fated experiences at the US Open for Pospisil – including 2015 when he was wracked with cramps and lost 6-4, 3-6, 6-7(0), 6-0, 6-1 to Andreas Haider-Maurer of Austria and 2013 when he was beaten 4-6, 3-6, 7-6(9), 6-2, 7-6(10) by Rogerio Dutra Silva of Brazil after failing to convert seven match points.

Of concern to Canadian fans will be Pospisil’s fitness for the September 15-17 Davis Cup World Group Play-off versus India in Edmonton.


Aside from the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building, Times Square may be the signature symbol of New York City. Everything there is big and bright – including the publicity for Jay-Z’s latest album.

NOTE: Blog on the Denis Shapovalov – Jo-Wilfried Tsonga match will be posted on Thursday morning.