Any hopes Eugenie Bouchard might have had that a return to grass would revive her flagging fortunes were dashed for the second tournament in succession. Having lost to Yaroslava Shvedova in her first grass-court match of the year in ’s-Hertogenbosch last week, Bouchard fell at her first hurdle in the Aegon Classic in Edgbaston when she was beaten 6-3, 4-6, 6-0 by France’s Kristina Mladenovic.
Eleven months after captivating the British public with her run to last year’s Wimbledon final, the 21-year-old Canadian admitted after her latest defeat that she was “very, very frustrated” by her current form, which has seen her win only one of her last nine matches. Asked for a word to describe her mood, the world No 11 said: “Every negative adjective you could think of, I would use that.”
Mladenovic, the world No 43, beat Bouchard in the first round of the French Open last month and swept her aside again in an embarrassingly one-sided final set, Bouchard winning only three points on her own serve.
Little has gone right for Bouchard since she parted company with her long-term coach, Nick Saviano, at the end of last year. After the Australian Open she appointed Sam Sumyk as her coach, the Frenchman having just split with Victoria Azarenka, but her results since Melbourne have been woeful.
Confirming she would play in next week’s Aegon International at Eastbourne, she said: “I’m losing first round every week, so I have a whole week to prepare for the next week. It’s a pretty tiring routine. I don’t know what we’re going to work on. Hopefully stuff that helps me get better.”
Asked if she thought the memory of her run at Wimbledon last year might lift her, Bouchard said: “It hasn’t helped me so far, so I don’t know. I think forgetting about it is the best thing I can do.”
The tournament also lost its second seed, Ana Ivanovic, who was beaten 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 by Portugal’s Michelle Larcher de Brito, the world No 135, and Azarenka, who pulled out through injury.
Jo Konta, the last British player left in the singles competition, was 4-3 down in the final set against the world No 12, Karolina Pliskova, when play was called off for the day because of rain.
Konta is one of five British singles players to benefit from Wimbledon’s first batch of wild cards. The first four in the women’s singles have gone to Konta and her fellow Briton, Naomi Broady, as well as Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko and Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit. Another four will be awarded before the start of the tournament, with Laura Robson expected to be among the recipients.
Heather Watson is the only British woman who has gained direct entry to the tournament via her world ranking, while Andy Murray and the Slovenian-born Aljaz Bedene, who was awarded a British passport earlier this year, are the only British men.
Three other British men – Kyle Edmund (world No 102), James Ward (No 109) and Liam Broady (No 178) – were given wild cards, along with Lleyton Hewitt, who will be making his farewell appearance at the All England Club, and France’s Nicolas Mahut.
Decisions on three more men’s wild cards have yet to be made. Eight Britons – Ed Corrie, Dan Cox, Joshua Milton, Amanda Carreras, Harriet Dart, Katy Dunne, Katie Swan and Gabriella Taylor – were handed wild cards into the qualifying tournament.
Stan Wawrinka, the French Open champion, became the latest high-profile loser at the Aegon Championships in west London when he lost for the fourth time in a row to South Africa’s Kevin Anderson, 7-6, 7-6. Wawrinka saved five match points in the second-set tie-break but had three set points of his own before going down 13-11.