Bouchard Aces Her Way Into Istanbul Final

WASHINGTON, September 12, 2020 (by Michael Dickens)

As the semifinals unfolded at the TEB BNP Paribas Tennis Championships Istanbul on clay Saturday with a foursome of unseeded players, only Eugenie Bouchard had previously won a WTA title. After defeating 2015 Roland Garros girls’ champion Paula Badosa 6-3, 6-2 in one hour and 25 minutes, she’s into her first final since 2016 in Kuala Lumpur. The 272nd-ranked Canadian qualifier finished off her semifinal victory over the 94th-ranked Badosa in one hour and 25 minutes with two service aces in the final game, including her fifth ace of the afternoon that was hit solidly and with authority straight up the “T” of the service box.

“I was very focused. I knew that I couldn’t let up even if I was ahead, serving for the match,” said Bouchard during a Zoom chat with a small group of reporters after the match. “I think she picked up her game in the second set – we had a couple of long games and I knew it could be a battle at any moment. So I just focused on each point individually. After that, I was happy I was able to pull away quickly at the end.”

Before Saturday, Bouchard and Badosa had played once before, also on clay, back in 2018 in the Contrexéville ITF W100 event that was won by the Spaniard. This time, Bouchard dominated the outcome by breaking Badosa’s serve four times. She also won 51 percent of her return points, saved six of seven break points, and outscored her opponent 69-53.

Looking back, the last time Bouchard won a WTA title was six years ago in Nuremberg. Now, day by day since qualifying began last weekend, Bouchard has remained focused and taken on each match as a challenge despite playing in front of few if any spectators. “I’m totally used to it,” she said. “It’s not awkward at all. I’ve been practicing for six months and practice with no fans. It feels the same except with an umpire and a couple of ball kids. It feels normal to me. …

“I’m trying to look at each tournament as being important to me. I came in here with goals of just wanted I wanted to do on court,” said Bouchard, noting that it encompasses the physical, mental and tactical sides of the game.

Bouchard said that six months of hard work in the gym during the lockdown of the WTA tour, focusing on her fitness and stamina, are starting to pay dividends. This week, she’s logged more than 12 hours on court in Istanbul. “Every day, I’ve pretty much done my job, but I have a lot to improve.

“I’m grateful to win and have another opportunity to try to do it again. I haven’t had a lot of opportunities recently or played a lot of matches recently. Just to get this many matches makes me happy.”

Going into Sunday’s final against Patricia Maria Tig of Romania, the sixth of her career, Bouchard said that she doesn’t want to compare her success in Istanbul with other weeks in the past in which she’s prospered – even though it has been a long time coming for the Montreal native, who won for the 12th time in 17 matches this year. She’ll enter as the second-lowest ranked player to reach a final in 2020.

“I’m particularly proud with how I have handled myself every day because I’ve had to play a match every day,”said Bouchard, who won two rounds of qualifying to get into the main draw and garnered four more victories to reach Sunday’s final. “I’m playing the same number of matches to get to the final of a Grand Slam, but in half the time – seven matches in seven days,” she said.

“I’ve never done it in my life, so I want to give it everything I have left tomorrow. For sure, it’s the last one.”

Around the TEB BNP Paribas Tennis Championships Istanbul

• World No. 88 Patricia Maria Tig, the highest-ranked played left in the draw, defeated 136th-ranked qualifier Tereza Martincova of the Czech Republic for the first time in Saturday’s second semifinal, 6-3, 6-3, in one hour and 49 minutes. Now, Tig has reached her first WTA Tour final of the year and the third of her career. Taking advantage of her experience, Tig broke Martincova’s serve seven times and overcame four breaks of her own serve. She outpointed her testy opponent 73-60, securing match point with a non-returnable, inside-out forehand that capped a 14-shot rally.

“I fought for every point which I think in the end made the difference,” said Tig, who now faces Eugenie Bouchard for the first time in Sunday’s final. Tig has not dropped a set in advancing with wins over qualifier Olga Danilovic, eighth seed Misaki Doi, second seed Rebecca Peterson and Martincova.

Tig told Tennis TourTalk she’s enjoyed her week in Istanbul, coming after recently losing to 18th seed Donna Vekic in the second round of the US Open. Not only because she’s winning on the court in the Turkish capital city, but because both her husband and coach, Razvan Sabau, and nearly-two-year-old daughter, Sofia, are with her in Turkey.

“We are so happy together here,”said Tig. “I wished for Sofia to be here with us. … I missed her very much. … I think she’s given us such good energy.”

• The pairings for Sunday’s doubles final is set. Top seeds Alexa Guarachi of Chile and Desirae Krawczyk of the United States will No. 2 seeds Ellen Perez and Storm Sanders of Australia.

Guarachi and Krawczyk defeated Kaitlyn Christian of the United States and Giuliana Olmos of Mexico, 6-3, 7-5, while Perez and Sanders advanced over Anna Karolina Schmiedlova of Slovakia and Katarina Zavatska of Ukraine, 7-5, 6-3.

The quote

“I want to just leave everything on the court, play as well as I can play and give it my all because it’s my last match in Istanbul. Leave it all out there, and what happens, happens.” – Eugenie Bouchard, on looking forward to Sunday’s singles championship final.