Eugenie Bouchard put all her energy into two long sets that ultimately made her a winner at the Western & Southern Open late Tuesday night. The 21-year-old Montreal native kept herself together and defeated Ukraine’s Kateryna Bondarenko 7-6(2), 7-6(5) on Stadium 3. It was Bouchard’s first win since June and one that she’ll try to build on.
The relentless Canadian entered the Cincinnati Masters in yet another attempt to end her woes on court. This time it was against the Ukrainian who she has met once before when the two were in their early years. Bondarenko won that in straight sets and would more than likely try to do it again. She made it through qualifying without a hitch to make a good effort against Bouchard.
It didn’t start out that way for Bondarenko as her Canadian counterpart got onto deuce while on the break to win the opening game sending cheers from the crowd. On Bouchard’s opening serve, she held the Ukrainian two a pair of points before scoring game point and a 2-0 lead. After handing Bondarenko a victory in the third, Bouchard opened the gap to two games holding firm on serve to lead 3-1. Feeling comfortable with her actions on court the 21 year old showed signs of offense to a higher degree than in recent matches played.
Bondarenko fought once more to get on level terms with Bouchard inching her way closer to success. The efforts of Game Five saw unforced errors coming from the Canadian to hand her another victory. Her mission was to stay on Bouchard’s six as long as she could before going for the overtake. After winning two straight, Bondarenko leveled to a tie at four all to make her important move in the set. In Game Nine she pulled off a perfect love service against the vulnerable talents of Bouchard to play for the set.
In her last efforts to stay alive in the set, Bouchard played her best game in the match holding the Ukrainian to just a single point before pushing the set into extra frames where a leader would be determined. Bondarenko was first to strike ahead during the critical moments where a mistake could foil your plans early.
With Bouchard well aware of what trailing behind was like, she kept herself in the game despite making a huge mistake of double faulting that put the Ukrainian on set point. In a surprise to all, Bouchard battled in a rally to sit on deuce to play out a chance in the tiebreaker. After two breaks, the Canadian made it happen forcing a tiebreaker to be played out.
With energy coming from her camp, Bouchard launched out to a 4-0 lead until Bondarenko fought back. She cut the lead in half before Bouchard inched closer to victory. On set point, the Canadian landed a much-needed winner to end the set with her out front.
The second went much differently with both ladies taking wins one after the other that led to their stalemate through four games. When Bouchard took the lead, Bondarenko would be there to even back up. This went on through six as Bondarenko on a mission to prevent a slip up giving Bouchard breathing room. On a fight on deuce, the Ukrainian held serve and won the game to level for a third time.
A fourth tie occurred with Bondarenko gaining leverage in the set. The 29 year old knew that if she could break ahead with her fighting power she might be able to force a deciding third set that would ultimately send Bouchard into a nervous terror. A chance came to her on set point but the Canadian made it harder forcing deuce with Bondarenko. The onslaught caused her racket to bend out of sorts needing a new racket to play well on the point. That did the trick sending the set to a 5-5 tie that gave her a chance to end it all.
She had the advantage of serving first where it worked out tremendously in her favor to play for the match that would close the page on never-ending losses. She had to earn her way to the win as Bondarenko forced the most important deuce draw that could make or break her run in the match. After two breaks, it was the Ukrainian who would come out alive to play a second straight tiebreak that still had her on the edge of defeat.
Bouchard, glistening with sweat from the excess humidity kept her mind set on playing out each point as if they were her last. Sitting back slightly, Bouchard made her move during a 4-4 tie where the Canadian struck ahead for two points to play for a match a third time. Bondarenko made the effort difficult for Bouchard who launched a left to right rally in which the Canadian landed a final shot just wide. Her second try at victory came with so much force trying everything to pressure the Ukrainian. Relief came when she was able to watch the ball from Bondarenko slap into the net ending the 2 hour and 10 minute ordeal.
“It was a tough fight until the end,” Bouchard said during her on court interview. “I was thinking maybe it was going to three sets in that tiebreaker but I’m happy that I just stayed tough, that was most important.” Tough will be the order until the end as she goes into Wednesday with a matchup against another Ukraine star. Elina Svitolina is at the top of her game and will (like Bouchard) be out an early run out front.