Bouchard backs up her words with fierce win over Sharapova

After beating Maria Sharapova in 3 sets in Madrid, Eugenie Bouchard discusses the support she's received in the tennis world for her comments about Sharapova's cheating and "so-called" comeback.

Gutsy.

That’s the best way to describe Eugenie Bouchard’s open and honest interview in which she publicly stated that “cheater” Maria Sharapova should never be allowed to play tennis again.

It’s one thing to think it, another thing to say it. Because when you say it, you have to live with it; it follows you. But Bouchard is fine with that. She isn’t afraid of Sharapova, and that showed on the court Monday in Madrid as the 23-year-old beat her former idol 7-5, 2-6, 6-4.

Whether you agree with Bouchard’s strong stance against Sharapova or not, one thing is certain: Sharapova cheated, whether she meant to or not. She took a banned performance-enhancing substance, and served a (reduced) 15-month suspension. But just because she served her time, it doesn’t mean her fellow players have to welcome her back with open arms.

Shortly after Bouchard made her Sharapova opinions public, the Madrid draw was released, revealing the possibility of a Sharapova-Bouchard second-round clash. Wouldn’t that be something, we thought. But there was doubt that Bouchard could even make it that far. But she did. Despite her struggles this season, she won her first-round match – her first tour-level win since the Australian Open in January. But could she string wins together?

Well, against Sharapova, Bouchard looked fierce, confident and fit. Bouchard had to run and defend, and she did it with a fire in her eyes that we haven’t seen from her in a while.

“I definitely had some extra motivation going into today,” Bouchard said after her win. “I was actually quite inspired before the match because I had a lot of players coming up to me privately wishing me good luck, players I don’t normally speak to, getting a lot of texts from people in the tennis world that were just rooting for me. So I wanted to do it for myself, but also all these people. I really felt support.”

Bouchard is fuelled by confidence, and by all accounts she has that right now. But we’re talking about back-to-back wins. For those suggesting that Bouchard “is back,” calm yourselves. Bouchard backed up her words, but she’s still searching for consistency.

The win over Sharapova could be the start of Bouchard’s turnaround but it could also be a flash in the pan. Let’s hope for the former.

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