In a three-set duel, hometown favourite Eugenie Bouchard had some good moments but not enough to book a ticket to the second round of the National Bank Open women’s singles qualifiers on Saturday (Aug. 5).
In her first match on the IGA Stadium centre court since 2018, Bouchard was defeated in three sets, 6-1, 1-6, 6-1, by 49th-ranked American Danielle Collins.
The momentum shifted throughout the match, and all three sets were quick. The first set lasted 29 minutes, and the next two each took 27.
After giving hope to the spectators by equalizing the match at one set each, Bouchard lost her composure in the third against a highly respectable opponent who reached the Australia Open final in 2022.
Before holding serve in the sixth game of the set, Bouchard only managed six points in the previous five games, which she lost in just 17 minutes.
For the 29-year-old from Montreal, who once reached a career-high ranking of No. 5 in 2014 but is now ranked 223rd, it was another disappointing outing at IGA Stadium, where she holds a career record of three wins and seven losses.
Bouchard started the first set well by breaking Collins’s serve, but that turned out to be her only positive moment in that set. Making numerous errors, Bouchard conceded the next six games.
Just when everyone seemed to be expecting a quick exit for Bouchard, she responded with vigour and flair by winning the first three games of the second set.
Supported by a decent crowd, considering it was a first-round qualifying match, Bouchard had her best moments in the match during the sixth game of the second set.
With Collins serving, Bouchard first handled a drop shot well. Using a smooth movement, she reached the ball and executed a crosscourt backhand to earn herself a breakpoint.
She then controlled the next point, making Collins move left and right before hitting a beautiful crosscourt backhand volley, securing her second break of the set and a 5-1 lead.
Four points later, Bouchard forced the match into a third and decisive set.
Before Bouchard’s appearance, Canadian players had a difficult start to the day.
The first to fall was Carol Zhao of Richmond Hill, Ont., who lost 6-3, 6-3 to Spain’s Cristina Bucsa.
Later, 18-year-old Marina Stakusic of Mississauga, Ont., ranked 414th in the world with only seven career matches at the WTA level, came close to causing an upset against American Alycia Parks, the 48th-ranked player in the world.
Despite conceding the first set, Parks managed to turn things around and eventually won 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 despite her impressive total of 17 double faults.
A third Canadian elimination followed, as Bianca Fernandez, the younger sister of Leylah, lost in straight sets, 6-1, 6-3, against Ukrainian Lesia Tsurenko, the 46th-ranked player in the world and the top seed in the qualifying draw.
Toronto’s Katherine Sebov, the highest-ranked of the six Canadian players in the qualifying draw at No. 144, played the last match on Saturday against American Peyton Stearns, while 19-year-old Albertan Mia Kupres battled against Kazakhstani Yulia Putintseva.
Michel Lamarche, The Canadian Press