Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard loses first singles match in 17 months

Canada's Eugenie Bouchard hits a return to Sara Sorribes Tormo, of Spain, during the women's final in the Abierto of Zapopan tennis tournament in Zapopan, Mexico, Saturday, March 13, 2021. (Refugio Ruiz/AP Photo)

VANCOUVER — Back in the glory days of Genie’s Army, and being known more for her tennis skills than social media selfies, a seemingly invincible Eugenie Bouchard was asked what superpower she’d wish for if she could have it.

Her answer was to be invisible.

Well, if you’re a fan of the Westmount, Que., native, you’re unhappy that wish sort of materialized during the first round of women’s singles at the Odlum Brown VanOpen on Tuesday where Bouchard was eliminated in 70 minutes by Arianne Hartono of the Netherlands 6-2, 6-2.

Granted, it was the 28-year-old’s first taste of singles competition in 17 months due to surgery and rehab of her right shoulder. She looked rusty and uncertain at times, which is to be expected. But Hartono, who felt she “stumbled a bit” at the start, found her footing quickly and looked unstoppable on this day.

A former world No. 5, Bouchard was playing singles for the first time since losing in the first round of a tournament in Mexico in March 2021. It’s been a while between wins.

Bouchard became the first Canadian to advance to the singles final at a Grand Slam in 2014 when she lost in the final at Wimbledon to Petra Kvitova of Czechia, the country commonly known as the Czech Republic.

Since then, Bouchard has battled numerous injuries, including a concussion after a fall in a trainer’s room at the U.S. Open in September of 2015.

Bouchard remains alive in the women’s doubles draw, where she and 17-year-old partner Kayla Cross of London, Ont., will play American Asia Muhammad and Miyu Kato of Japan in the quarterfinals after outlasting the Italian combo of Lucia Bronzetti and Elisabetta Cocciaretto on Sunday, 6-1, 6-7(3), 10-4.

In other women’s singles action Tuesday, 31-year-old Rebecca Marino of Vancouver, ranked sixth in the tournament at Hollyburn Country Club in West Vancouver, fell in a three-set thriller to 21-year-old Emma Navarro of New York 6-4, 4-6, 6-7 (7) in the evening’s featured match that took two hours and 12 minutes to play. Earlier, Priscilla Hon of Australia defeated Marina Stakusic of Montreal 6-3, 6-3.

On the men’s side, Vasek Pospisil of Vancouver defeated Felipe Meligeni Rodrigues Alves of Brazil 7-5, 6-3 in a match that took 84 minutes. With the victory the 32-year-old, who grew up in B.C., will advance to Wednesday’s round of 16.

One of the bigger surprises of the day was the unexpected victory of Laval, Que., wild card Alexis Galarneau, who battled back and forth with top seed Yoshihito Nishioka of Japan. Galarneau lost the first set 5-7, bounced back to win the second 6-4 and, just before the third-and-deciding set was to begin, Nishioka withdrew.

The tournament, which this year was promoted to a combined ATP Challenger Tour 125 and WTA 125 event, concludes Sunday.

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