Eugenie Bouchard’s perplexing downward spiral has “gone beyond tennis” and could be attributed to her personal life, believes broadcaster Damien Cox.
“I think there’s something really wrong,” said Cox, who was a guest on Friday morning’s Dean Blundell & Co. on Sportsnet 590 The FAN. “The problem we have with all professional athletes is that a lot of the time we don’t know what’s going on in their lives. I think for a young woman travelling the world largely on her own, I’m sure there’s a million different things going on.
“This has gone beyond tennis now. This is not a technical issue, this is not a coaching issue. I’m not even sure it’s an injury or health issue.”
Bouchard, ranked No. 12 in the world, lost to 117th-seed Duan Ying-Ying in the first round of Wimbledon on Tuesday. It was later revealed that the Westmount, Que., native played with a torn abdominal muscle.
The loss was Bouchard’s 12th in her past 14 matches. It’s certainly a fall from grace as just a year ago she was runner-up at Wimbledon, losing in the final to Petra Kvitova.
Cox said there is a clear difference in the 21-year-old Bouchard’s demeanour these days compared to how she acted last year.
“Even the way she talks – it used to be about getting to No. 1 in the world and winning Grand Slams, and now it’s ‘Well, I won’t be playing by the time I’m 30,’ and then after another loss, ‘It’s not the biggest thing in the world, what’s the big deal?’
“I think part of that is defensive,” Cox added. “And I just think something – and I don’t pretend to know the intimate details of her life – something major has gone wrong.”
If Bouchard continues to lose and her ranking falls, Cox said she will begin to run into stiffer competition in the earlier rounds of tournaments, something that struggling star Rafael Nadal is currently experiencing.
“People never talk about it but when your ranking is up you get a lot of early puffballs that you can work through in the tournament,” Cox said. “When your ranking starts to fall you get harder and harder matches, which means more and more tournaments you lose early – although she’s losing to everybody.”
Following Wimbledon, Bouchard will likely fall out of the top 20 rankings.
“She is just awful out there now,” said Cox. “I feel terrible for her because even whether you like her or dislike her, it’s hard to see a professional athlete with this promise take such a downward turn.