Bouchard falls again at US Open as 2015 lawsuit continues

Reuters
Once the poster girl for the future of women's tennis, Eugenie Bouchard suffers another painful US Open exit, even if this time it was on court rather than the shower room.
Reuters
Reuters

Eugenie Bouchard in action against Russia's Evgeniya Rodina during their US Open first-round match at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, New York, on August 30, 2017. The Canadian lost 6-7 (2), 1-6.

Eugenie Bouchard was back on center court at the US Open on Wednesday, the United States Tennis Association saying it held no grudges against the Canadian who is suing the organization for negligence over injuries suffered in a locker-room fall.

Usually the marquee matchups of the day are reserved for Arthur Ashe Stadium and a contest between two players barely ranked inside the top 100 seemed an unconventional choice — even more so given the lawsuit now before the courts.

"I was surprised," admitted the 76th-ranked Bouchard following a 6-7 (2), 1-6 thrashing by 89th-ranked Russian Evgeniya Rodina. "But it's always an amazing opportunity to play on the biggest tennis court in the world."

There was a time not long ago when an appearance on Arthur Ashe by the 23-year-old would have been met with excitement rather than raised eyebrows.

Ranked as high as world No. 5, Bouchard was hailed as the next big thing in women’s tennis in 2014 when she reached the Wimbledon final and the semifinals at the Australian Open and Roland Garros.

But now Bouchard, winner of just two matches since the French Open, needs wildcards to gain direct entry to the WTA's top events, making her clash with Rodina, winless since early June, an odd choice to open day three at Flushing Meadows.

On a sunny morning the once raucous Genie's Army was nowhere to be seen with only a small crowd sprinkled across the cavernous venue while the sprawling grounds were buzzing with world No. 4 Elina Svitolina, Australian bad boy Nick Kyrgios and other seeds all in action.

"Specifically, with Bouchard we are comfortable with our decision of putting her on Ashe, there are a lot of matches to schedule today, things could have gone many different ways," USTA spokesman Chris Widmaier said.

"I think she still is popular. She does seem to be a fan favorite."

AFP

Evgeniya Rodina of Russia serves to Eugenie Bouchard of Canada during their US Open first-round match  at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York on August 30, 2017.

The USTA and Bouchard have settled into an uneasy relationship with the Canadian's lawsuit hanging over the US Open.

Bouchard's attorneys in May accused the USTA of erasing security camera footage of her fall in the locker-room at the 2015 US Open, which resulted in a concussion.

Her lawyers said the accident was caused by a cleaning substance and the injury forced her out of the Grand Slam and subsequent tournaments.

"Certainly we don't hold any grudges," Widmaier said. "What happens outside this tournament is irrelevant to us as we build the schedule."

Given their current strained truce Bouchard's return to Arthur Ashe did little to spark memories of better days.

"We're still in the process," she said. "I’m able to concentrate on the tennis when I'm here but I definitely have bad memories from here two years ago."

Against Rodina, who came in 0-3 in Grand Slam matches and 4-13 overall this year, Bouchard made 46 unforced errors, 20 more than her winner total. She also was broken in 5 of 9 service games, The Associated Press reported.

"It's one of those matches you kind of want to forget about," Bouchard said. "I just didn't really know what to do out there."

She dropped to 11-17 this season and noted: "My confidence is not high at all at this point in time, and I definitely had question marks about what my level would be like coming out today."


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