KOOYONG, January 11, 2018
Eugenie Bouchard put on a strong display of tennis to defeat Australian teenager Destanee Aiava in her debut at the Kooyong Classic before the draws for the men’s and women’s singles finals were revealed.
Tournament director Peter Johnston announced the finals to be played on Friday leading off with second ranked Australian Matthew Ebden up against world No. 10 Pablo Carreno Busta from Spain.
Both men qualified for the final after beating the highest ranked players in the first round of the Kooyong Classic, after Richard Gasquet decided that his two committed matches were enough for his Open preparation.
The women’s final match will see former world No. 9 Andrea Petkovic from Germany play against in-form 20-year-old Swiss Belinda Bencic who is fresh off a Hopman Cup win with teammate Roger Federer.
In day three action, Bouchard started fast against the Aiava and the 23-year-old did not let up closing out the match 6-2 6-0. While still making some in-game technical changes the world No. 83 has made to her game over the off-season.
“I’m still progressing, it’s just a lot of work,” Bouchard told reporters after the match.
“I’ve been practicing a lot, as soon as I lost (in Hobart) I was on the court the next day, that’s just what it takes trying to improve a lot of areas of my game.
“It’s not going to happen overnight.”
Other results saw world No. 31 Gasquet defeat Ebden 6-4 7-6(4) in a very competitive match, young Russian rising star Andrey Rublev come from a set down to beat Frenchman Lucas Pouille and Yoshihito Nishioka closed the day with a win against Australian Jason Kubler.
FRIDAY 12 JANUARY – Play begins at 11am
Men’s singles final: Matthew Ebden (AUS) vs Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP)
Women’s singles final: Andrea Petkovic (GER) vs Belinda Bencic (SUI)
Marcos Baghdatis (CYP) vs David Goffin (BEL)
Bouchard, who made the semi-finals at the Australian Open in 2014, reached a career high ranking of five in the world that same year and is now eager to put a miserable 2017 season behind her.
The draw of the Grand Slam to be played at Melbourne Park next week will be done on Thursday night and the Canadian will be more than keen to start 2018 with an opening round win at a major.
“I don’t want to feel any kind of continuation from 2017 because it really wasn’t a good year for me, like I said I worked hard in the off-season so that will take time,” Bouchard said.
“For me I was just happy to be out there in a pretty official feeling match with stands, a crowd and an umpire.
“I was just focusing on myself and working on things throughout the match.”
Ebden followed up yesterday’s win over world No. 6 Marin Cilic in three sets with a strong outing against Gasquet on day three at the Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club. The second highest ranked Australian was unlucky not to capitalise on multiple break points in a tight first set.
“It’s a nice hot day, but I’m used to it, I live in Perth and train there in the summer,” Ebden said.
“Yeah absolutely (another good opponent) and I had three or four break points in the first set but didn’t convert them and he converted one.
“It could have easily gone my way and then I was up a break in the second so it was another close match, could have played a bit better but it’s a good couple of sets.”
The 30-year-old ranked No. 76 in the world will be more than excited to take to the court at Melbourne Park next week after fighting hard last year to lift his ranking after an extended time on the sidelines with a knee injury.
“It’s just recovery now after six days of practice and matches,” he said of the upcoming Grand Slam.