TORONTO — Eugenie Bouchard has never advanced past the Round of 16 at the Rogers Cup.
She’s in Toronto, in somewhat familiar ground, hoping that 2017 is the year that changes.
“I love coming to The Six, it’s so cool,” she told reporters on Monday at Aviva Centre. “I don’t spend much time here, but I do have some family and some friends that are here.”
Bouchard will face Donna Vekic on Tuesday in a first-round matchup that is anything but a gimme.
The Canadian’s last trip to Toronto for her national tournament ended in an opening-round loss to Belinda Bencic of Switzerland. The 23-year-old has changed her routine this time around.
“I’m actually staying near the tournament this year and not downtown to be very focused,” she said. “But I do enjoy kind of meeting a whole new bunch of fans that are different than Montreal.
“It’s great to be able to play tennis in multiple cities in Canada.”
The Westmount, Que., native does have a win under her belt over Vekic in the only professional meeting between the two players, a three-set victory at Shenzhen in 2016. But Bouchard enters the Rogers Cup having lost five of her last six singles matches.
Vekic, ranked No. 51 in the world, won the Nottingham Open in June, beating world No. 7 Johanna Konta in the process. The 21-year-old hasn’t played since Wimbledon, where she was knocked out in the second round, by Konta.
“I watched (Vekic’s) match at Wimbledon against Konta — that was a really good match I thought,” said Bouchard. “So I gotta be ready for her really being pretty aggressive and going for her shots and just to have a fun, good battle out there.
“Like I said, just kind of play free and try to play as well as I can on each point and we’ll see what happens.”
If Bouchard is going to make a run here in Toronto, she’s going to have to put together an impressive string of performances.
Awaiting the winner of her match with Vekic is none other than world No. 3 Angelique Kerber. After that, will likely await Petra Kvitova – ranked 14th in the world – who beat Bouchard in her only Grand Slam final at Wimbledon three years ago.
In a country that’s seeing a new wave of young tennis stars reach new heights each year, it’s still Bouchard who reigns as the top Canadian at the Rogers Cup. A big run here in Canada – which hasn’t seen one of its own take its top tennis title in 48 years – would do wonders for Bouchard’s morale, and ranking, which has slipped to 70th in the world.
“I would love to play great in Canada because I don’t get to play here often, and I do feel my country’s support when I’m playing around the world,” she said. “So I would love more than anything to play well for them.
“But,” she cautioned, “it’ll be really hard.”