Home court no help as Bouchard falls in Toronto

Reuters
Home support proved no help as Eugenie Bouchard's struggles continue with a straight-sets loss to qualifier Donna Vekic at the Rogers Cup in Toronto.
Reuters
Reuters

Donna Vekic plays a shot against Eugenie Bouchard of Canada during their Rogers Cup first-round match at Aviva Centre in Toronto, Ontario in Canada on August 8, 2017. The Croatian qualifier won 6-3, 6-4.

Eugenie Bouchard's mid-season nosedive continued on Tuesday as the Canadian was swept aside 3-6, 4-6 by Croatian qualifier Donna Vekic despite having home advantage and the backing of an excited crowd in a first-round clash at the Rogers Cup in Toronto.

With only one match win since her French Open second-round exit, Bouchard was hoping a visit home would result in a return to the victory column.

But she drew little inspiration from the crowd as she added to a long list of disappointing efforts, committing 32 unforced errors and seven double faults while being broken six times by a 21-year-old making a her first appearance in the main draw.

"I guess I am going to have to have a tournament in Croatia to finally have the home crowd," said Vekic, who earned a second-round meeting with German third seed and former world No. 1 Angelique Kerber.

"I hope I am going to have support (in the) next match and I hope we are going to play on this court again," added Vekic.

Bouchard, ranked as high as No. 5 and hailed as the next big thing in women's tennis when she reached the Wimbledon final and the semifinals at the Australian Open and Roland Garros in 2014, has seen her ranking plummet to 70 in the world and needed a wildcard entry into her home tournament.

The Rogers Cup, which alternates between Toronto and Montreal where Bouchard was born and raised, has never exactly been home-sweet-home for the Canadian who has made seven main draw appearances but four times dropped her opening match and only once advanced past the second round.

While her ranking does not rate center court status, Bouchard's immense popularity does, the smiling 23-year-old stepping into the sun-kissed arena to huge applause before exiting 94 minutes later with a blank face and a sheepish wave.

Former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki opened her campaign with a 6-3, 6-0 second-round rout of Ekaterina Alexandrova.

The Dane, who captured the Canadian trophy in 2010, is still looking for her first title of the season after being in five finals.

Polish 10th seed Agnieszka Radwanska, the Rogers Cup winner in 2014, kicked off her North American hardcourt campaign with a regulation 6-3, 6-3 win over American CoCo Vandeweghe, who lost the final in Stanford on Sunday to compatriot Madison Keys.

"In tennis you don’t have easy draws — you have bad ones, or really bad ones,” said Radwanska, who will next play Hungary's Timea Babos. "From the first round, you really have to play your best game to win."

Babos, ranked 55th, accounted for the last remaining Canadian in the main draw, by seeing off Bianca Andreescu, coming off a quarterfinal run at the Citi Open in Washington, DC, last week, 6-4, 6-1.

Russian 16th seed Elena Vesnina was also an easy winner, dispatching another American Alison Riske 6-3, 6-3.

Catherine Bellis kept Tuesday from becoming a complete washout for the United States as the 18-year-old battled back from a set down to outlast Germany's Julia Goerges 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Ekaterina Makarova, Ashleigh Barty, Caroline Garcia and Magdalena Rybarikova also advanced. In second-round play, fifth-seed Elina Svitolina beat Daria Kasatkina.

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