If Eugenie Bouchard had any doubts about her status as the most marketable and exciting young property in women’s tennis they would surely have been dispelled when she saw the front cover of The New York Times magazine. Beneath a striking photograph of the 20-year-old Canadian and the headline “Big Shot”, a sub-heading read: “Eugenie Bouchard could be the future of women’s tennis. All she has to do is win.”
Bouchard’s talent was clear when she won the girls’ title at Wimbledon two summers ago and reached the semi-finals of this year’s Australian and French Opens, but her celebrity status has climbed several notches since her run to the Wimbledon final this summer.
“There are definitely expectations and pressure to do well,” the world No 8 admitted on Saturday as she took a break from preparations for the US Open, which starts today. “That’s something I have to get used to and something I’ve felt since Wimbledon and just part of the process.”
She added: “I’m recognised a lot more and you feel a lot of eyes on you no matter what you do, but it’s a position I want to be in. I want to be climbing up the ladder like that. I want to be the one that people want to beat and to get to that position. I just feel like I’m on my way to the place I want to be. I’m not there yet. There’s still a lot of work to do.”
If the way Bouchard handled the public interest in her at Wimbledon was any guide she will take it all in her stride, though her subsequent on-court performances tell a different story. In her first appearance after Wimbledon, in her home city of Montreal, she was beaten by Shelby Rogers, the world No 113. She then lost again, to Svetlana Kuznetsova, in her first match in Cincinnati and won only once in New Haven last week before losing to Sam Stosur.
However, Bouchard insisted: “I’m not worried too much about my lead-up to the US Open. I have looked back, and before all the Slams I have had different lead-ups and have done well in them. My point is that you never know what’s going to happen. I don’t think there is a magic recipe of what you can do before a Slam to guarantee a win because you can never guarantee the result.
“It’s unfortunate. I would have liked to play more matches, for sure. I would have liked to have just more time on the court, but I haven’t been able to do that. It’s just a little bit unfortunate, but I’m feeling better this week.”
Bouchard’s first-round opponent is Olga Govortsova, of Belarus, with the winner to face either Britain’s Heather Watson or Sorana Cirstea. If results go according to seedings Bouchard faces a quarter-final showdown with Petra Kvitova, who beat her in the Wimbledon final, with the winner to take on Serena Williams. If Bouchard were to come through those challenges the “future of women’s tennis” label would be justified.