AFP Paris, France
Former Wimbledon finalist Eugenie Bouchard said she was “so grateful to have a job” in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic which has plunged the global economy into a recession.
The 26-year-old Canadian has endured years of disappointment after failing to rescale the heights that saw her finish runner-up to Petra Kvitova at Wimbledon in 2014, and needed a wild card just to take part at the French Open.
Yesterday’s 5-7, 6-4, 6-3 win over Daria Gavrilova sent Bouchard through to the third round of a Grand Slam for the first time since the 2017 Australian Open.
“I’m proud of taking advantage of the opportunities. There are so few tournaments this year. Especially with my ranking, I was very limited with what I could play,” said Bouchard, the world number 168.
“We’re all just so grateful to have jobs, have a big event to kind of end our season.
“You just have to be so grateful for every opportunity. I’ve tried to push myself in every chance I’ve had because I know there are so few.”
Six years ago Bouchard appeared on the cusp of global stardom after a golden season that also included semi-final appearances at the Australian Open and French Open.
She achieved a career high of fifth in October 2014 but has largely spent the intervening years in freefall, reaching the second week of a Grand Slam just twice.
The last such time was at the 2015 US Open when a locker room slip forced her to withdraw in the last 16 with a concussion.
She later reached a settlement with the US Tennis Association over an accident her lawyer said had sent Bouchard on a “downward spiral that she has not been able to recover from”.
“I think I’ve had tough moments, for sure,” said Bouchard.
“I think deep down, you know, still believing in myself no matter what, knowing my skill can’t just go away, knowing that I’ve achieved success before.
“It’s just something that I’ll always have, reinforces my belief. That’s what I use when I need to work hard, when times are tough.”
Bouchard has been working since last October with Gil Reyes, Andre Agassi’s long-time training guru and confidant.
While her only WTA title came at Nuremberg in 2014, Bouchard arrived in Paris on the back of a first final in over four years in Istanbul.
“Gil is one of my favourite people on this planet. He’s such a special person. Words don’t do him justice,” said Bouchard.
“I’m so grateful for his help. He believes in me so much. It helps me believe in myself.”
Bouchard takes on Polish teenager Iga Swiatek for a berth in the last 16 but is staying grounded, chastened by her experiences of years past.
“I’m just happy to be here right now,” she said. “I don’t look ahead other than my next match.
“There are some upsets. I’m sure lots of interesting things will go down over the next two weeks. I’m just focused on my next one.”
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