Eugenie Bouchard did not hide her astonishment when she received a call from coach Sylvain Bruneau telling her that she had obtained a pass for the French Open.
This unexpected place in the main draw, the result of an agreement between Tennis Canada and the French Tennis Federation, earned him his first participation in a Grand Slam tournament in 2020.
“Honestly, I was shocked to hear this news,” said the 26-year-old Quebecer in a recent interview with TSN. I did not expect that. ”
Bouchard is one of six representatives of the maple leaf present in Paris, although she will be the only one of her compatriots to play today on the occasion of the first day of competition.
She will face Russian Anna Kalinskaya, five years younger and ranked 108th in the WTA. The game, which is scheduled to begin early afternoon Eastern Time, will be the last of four to be played on court number 7.
With a recent participation in the final of the Istanbul tournament, not without having taken the painful stage of qualifying, Bouchard is approaching his return to Paris with optimism.
“I played a lot of games recently,” she explained. More than eight, counting a doubles match, in a week. I don't remember playing so much in such a short time. It's good for confidence. I needed good results. Going from 330th to 167th place in the standings is reassuring. ”
Bouchard admits to having worked hard to improve his lot.
“I trained really hard during the long break, especially at the gym, and it helped me a lot,” she added. I have never been so fit in my life. ”
Now associated with Australian coach Tim Blenkiron, who is accompanying him to Paris, Bouchard also recognizes that the presence in his entourage of Rennae Stubbs had a beneficial effect.
“I love Rennae,” she said. It brings a good dose of energy. Her experience not only as a former player, but also as a coach and commentator [on ESPN], is an asset to me.
“The fact that she is a woman is also an advantage. Few of them in the tennis world occupy a coaching role. Rennae understands the emotional side more and she has a lot of knowledge. ”
Bouchard does not have this reputation for remaining faithful for long with his close guard.
“Today, I am working with the right people,” she concluded.
Difficult task for Fernandez
Leylah Annie Fernandez, she did not have to obtain an invitation to reach the main draw. She has earned her place on the strength of her 100th world echelon.
The Montrealer will be making her third participation in a major tournament, but her first in the City of Light. In the professional ranks, we get along.
“I have fond memories of Paris,” she said. I reached the semi-final round in 2018 at the juniors and won the championship last year. My goal is to get to the second week of competition. ”
But the task will not be easy for the 18-year-old Canadian since she will face a seed (31st) from the initial round, the Polish Magda Linette, 36th in the world.
“We trained a few times together in Florida,” said Fernandez. It allowed me to know her better. My clay court game is constantly improving and I will give it my all.