It wasn’t Eugenie Bouchard’s day in the final of the 2016 Hobart International. She fell to Alize Cornet 6-1 6-2 in a one-sided match. But if one takes a step back and looks at the bigger picture, Genie’s start this season gives reason to hope for a resurgence in her game. In 2014, she was the new tennis rising star, reaching the semifinals of the Australian Open and Roland Garros. She followed that up with a runner-up at Wimbledon. But since losing to Petra Kvitova in those finals, she has steadily fallen in quality of play until 2015, where her game dropped off precipitously. Bouchard lost her opening match in 11 tournaments. It was shocking to see the player she was in 2014 be so poor in 2015. To add insult, her year ended with a slip in the US Open locker room where she hit her head and suffered concussion symptoms the rest of the season. But 2016 has seen Genie rebound with a quarterfinal run in Shenzhen and a runner-up finish at Hobart. Hobart was her first final since Wuhan 2014. Wins over tough opponents Dominika Cibulkova, Camila Giorgi and Bethanie Mattek-Sands suggest that Bouchard is beginning to find her way again under the tutelage of new coach Thomas Hogstedt. He is noted in WTA circles for his outstanding work with Li Na and Maria Sharapova. The talent is still there for Genie. It’s just a matter of putting it all together again. Because of 2015, her ranking has slipped so her draw at the Australian Open will be much tougher this year than last year. But that’s what she will have to deal with until she can climb back up the rankings.
That said, I would be remiss not to celebrate and congratulate this week’s WTA title winners, Alize Cornet (Hobart) and Svetlana Kuznetsova (Sydney). Both of those players are the kind of upset threats that the top seeds don’t want to see in their draw. First of all, Sveta is a 2-time Major champion with the kind of mental strength that helps her fear nobody. Win or lose, she’s going to make it a fight. And for Alize, let’s not forget that in that same 2014 season where Eugenie Bouchard was turning heads, it was Cornet who beat Serena Williams multiple times, including knocking her out of Wimbledon. In fact, she beat Serena in the third round of Wimbledon 2014 and then lost to Genie in the fourth round. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Alize or Sveta lose in the early rounds at Melbourne…but I also wouldn’t be surprised to look up and see them in the quarterfinals.
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APIA INTERNATIONAL SYDNEY FINAL
SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA (RUS) d. [Q] Monica Puig (PUR), 6-0 6-2
HOBART INTERNATIONAL FINAL
7 ALIZE CORNET (FRA) d. Eugenie Bouchard (CAN), 6-1 6-2