Oddly enough though the atmosphere around this match was electric it was pushed back one hour due to a power outage in the area. For roughly 7 hours yesterday the tournament organizers had to deal with no power. During the day it was not really a problem just the scoreboard didn’t work, Hawk-Eye (the computer used to track the ball for call disputes) wasn’t available and the chair umpires had to yell out the scores as they had no microphones. All in all the organizers did well considering.
The 2nd round match seeing local girl Eugenie Bouchard face off against American Shelby Rogers was pushed back from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. It was an unusually highly anticipated 2nd round game due to the fact that Westmount native Bouchard was part of it. It was her first match in front of her home crowd fans after her impressive semi-final runs at the French and Australian Opens as well as her finals appearance at Wimbledon. She had become the darling of tennis and doubly so here in her home town. Even Genie’s Army, a group of supporters, had flown 20 hours from Australia to see her play. As a result anything less than another trip to the finals would be a disappointment. Imagine the pressure due to all those expectations heaped on the 20-year-olds shoulders. I think most people assumed that she would just handle it despite her lack of experience in the spotlight because of the strength of character she had displayed over the past season. We forgot that she is still a very young lady.
Her opponent on this day was Shelby Rogers, a 22-year-old American ranked 113th in the world. Rogers has been on a hot streak lately playing some really good tennis and had gotten into the Main Draw courtesy of a strong weekend in the qualifying mini-tournament.
The colour of the week (or evening) for Bouchard was hot pink; she was in a Nike outfit of that colour head to toe. Rogers, seemingly knowing her standing with crowd and wanting to play her part of the villain, was dressed in all black. The two know each other’s game pretty well as they have practiced together on occasion. An explosion and mini standing ovation greeting Bouchard’s entry into the stadium – that is how hyped the crowd was.
Bouchard served first and from that first game you could tell something was off. A big cheer greeted her first point making it 15-15. The crowd was firmly behind the Westmounter. Rogers was not thrown in the least and quickly earned two break point opportunities. She only needed one of them to earn the game’s first break.
Things went from bad to worse for Bouchard in the 1st set. Shots she would normally pound back for winners were spraying everywhere. Whereas the American was hitting the ball with power and precision.
As the sun set generators were used to power the lights above the stadium so the game was able to go on, though I’m sure Bouchard would have liked to end it there. The game was halted around this point for a couple of minutes as it rained lightly very briefly making the lines quite slippy. The ball kids dried the lines and the game resumed in short order.
After going down 0-5 in the first set Bouchard called for her coach Nick Saviano. Saviano sat down next to her and gave her some advice about things like court positioning and taking more time in between points. Throughout the entire conversation Bouchard didn’t say anything other than when she said “I’m not in the match” and just looked shell shocked. Saviano left her with the thought to not panic as it was just the 1st set.
The 6th game of the 1st set saw Bouchard play a little better, but Rogers was still able to hold winning the set 6-0. Going into the 2nd set Bouchard had to find a way back into the match against Rogers, who was playing great tennis. It was über important that Bouchard start the 2nd set well. The 1st game Bouchard was serving and managed to claw her way back from two break points down to hold serve. It was her first win of a game and got her coach Saviano up and applauding in the coach’s box. She carried that momentum forward and broke Rogers in the 2nd, 4th, 6th, and 8th games. Despite the fact that Rogers broke Bouchard’s serve twice in the set Eugenie was able to win it 6-2.
Watching the 2nd set you thought that Bouchard was taking control of the match. Rogers is not the best mover on the court and Bouchard was using that to her advantage not allowing her to just stand there and crank her forehand. Things that worked for Rogers in the 1st set were no longer working.
Not able to carry forth what should have been some newfound confidence the 3rd set was the mirror image of the 1st. Rogers broke Bouchard right away in the 1st game. The American was playing nice and relaxed once again. She certainly knows how to quiet a crowd! Bouchard began playing very quickly which is never a good sign. A 6-0 win in the 3rd set for Rogers meant that she had a stunning 6-0, 2-6, 6-0 victory and was going on to the 3rd round. The 5th seed was out in the 2nd round. Bouchard left the court very quickly obviously quite disappointed and not wanting to let the fans see the emotions which I’m sure came as soon as she was in the locker room.
To have the 8th ranked player in the world lose to the 113th ranked player is a huge upset. Nerves? Lay off? A combination of the two? I think it was the latter. Her game definitely showed signs of rust and her body language was one of someone who didn’t know how to handle the expectations. The fact that she had not played since the loss in the Wimbledon finals, which was four weeks ago, hurt Eugenie. She was lacking consistency. Some points were of good quality while others were just awful. It was painful to watch at times. Bouchard looked like she just wanted to dig a hole and get in it.
Because of the early loss the Rogers Cup was deprived of its biggest star going forward. Wrong thing to think as there is still plenty of good tennis and players like Ana Ivanovic, Maria Sharapova, and Serena and Venus Williams left in the tournament. Just won’t have the same electricity as a Eugenie Bouchard match would.