Eugenie Bouchard made it through to the second round of the US Open with a slightly improved game play Monday night. The 21 year old held tight against Alison Riske to win 6-4, 6-3 on Court 17 at the Billy Jean King Tennis Center in New York.
This was Bouchard’s last chance this season to end on a strong note in majors. Her quarterfinal finish at the Australian Open was the best finish in what has been a year full of disappointments. She went against the American for a sixth time where the last four straight have been winners. She fought through the opening set at Eastbourne only to be knocked out of the second round.
Though many gave the Canadian a shot at the second round, it will be up to her on whether she can go beyond the round of 64 and make her run at the US Open successful. With the acquisition of Jimmy Connors as coach the new set of skills that she has been implementing slowly could be just the change required.
Riske had the home crowd on her side, but it wouldn’t be the key point required to be victorious on court. The 25 year old has lost the last six of ten showing her inability to play against the big names. Though Bouchard has gained notoriety over the past 14 months, the expectations wont be enough to ride upon, as more needs to be done when playing for the final Grand Slam of the year.
The Canadian opened well against Riske nearly getting the love service but still holding on to victory. Riske took her serve and held the service all the way through to tie up with Bouchard after two. The Canadian fought back a double break for Riske to force deuce in the third game. The American was able to hold on serve and be the first to start a lead in their series against one another.
With the boost of confidence, Riske was showing some strong defense as well as playing the ball hard on Bouchard. After five long breaks, the American was able to fend off the push from the Canadian taking a 3-1 lead in the process. Knowing that she couldn’t fall back far, Bouchard won Game Five keeping no more than a game between her and Riske.
She leveled up at three games all where on the second break; Bouchard had big shots going where she wanted them to go. The confidence was building up in her favor when she was able to climb ahead on the score. Riske came back to fight for the lead a second time and got her chance on deuce. A great response from the American had her on the advantage, but Bouchard immediately took back the hold and won the game that had her ahead.
The Canadian continued to take a step in the right direction winning Game Eight to serve for the set. Riske had other plans in mind where she rallied on the break to win and put herself in a chance to push the set forward. Riske was still a dangerous adversary being so close to putting Bouchard in a corner. After four breaks and ten minutes of play in Game Nine, Bouchard was able to write the set in her name finishing it in 54 minutes.
Although her second serve didn’t fair well on court, the actions from her first were enough to keep her confidence high. Returning against Riske was stronger than ever landing 84 percent of shots while keeping the unforced errors lower than usual. Riske found herself a rough spot losing her fourth straight set against Bouchard that now had her one from being eliminated.
Bouchard looking strong after a much needed break came out to take the first victory of the second giving her the longest streak of recent matches played. Riske was still heated as she had what it took to get back into the fight. She made a big statement evening up with Bouchard after three breaks on deuce. Bouchard regained control in yet another draw on deuce taking the victory in stride against the tough American. During the break, Bouchard had the trainer out to treat her foot before she resuming the match.
The treatment took a bit of fire away from the Canadian, as she no longer seemed to control the game. Instead it was Riske who was starting to make something of the set as she fought hard to come back and even the set at two all. To make things better for herself, she took the lead away from Bouchard on a battle on deuce giving the fans plenty to cheer about. Riske was on serve in Game Six where she evened again with Bouchard fighting tooth and nail to not fall back.
Unfortunately for the American she would lose control against the Canadian who wanted nothing more than to keep playing in the tournament. She was not allowed to do as Bouchard took off to win the next three games in a row to end the fight three minutes short of two hours. “It feels really good to get it at a Grand Slam as well, the US Open no less so I’m so excited to be able to play another match here,” Bouchard said to TSN after the match.
The new found help from Connors seemed to have made a difference in parts of her game maintaining a low number on double faults and thing for landing aces. “He’s been great, his experience is like no other so I’m very thankful.” She landed 64 percent of shots on the first serve and improved on her second serve enough to end her day with a victory.
With two days of rest and practice, the Canadian will prepare to meet Polona Hercog in the second round Wednesday.