Top female tennis players can relate to Bouchard’s struggles

After a first-round loss, Genie Bouchard talked about Bianca Andreescu at the Rogers Cup, saying “someone else can carry the burden of Canada.”

TORONTO — Simona Halep boosts her confidence by posting motivational quotes on Instagram. Caroline Wozniacki got hers back after taking a break from tennis. Garbine Muguruza believes in herself when she knows she’s done everything possible to prepare.

The world’s top tennis stars all have their tricks to help them bounce back after tough stretches, but Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard may still be looking for one that works for her.

Bouchard said she was "obviously a bit low on confidence" after losing her first-round match against qualifier Donna Vekic at the Rogers Cup on Tuesday. Asked what she needed to do to get that confidence back, the Westmount, Que., native replied dryly: "Win matches."

Muguruza — the world’s fourth-ranked player and reigning Wimbledon champion — agrees. But for her, there’s a lot more to it than that.

"If you win, it makes you more confident, of course, but the first step is to feel that you’ve done everything you can to (prepare) for the tournament," the 23-year-old Spaniard said Wednesday. "Everybody wants to win, but me feeling I did my homework, you know: ‘I’m here, I’m ready.’ That’s helpful."

Muguruza won the French Open in 2016, but then hit a rough stretch, losing her opening match at the Madrid Open before being bounced from Wimbledon in the second round by a 124th-ranked player.

She said she felt pressure to do well following her first Grand Slam title, which made things more difficult. Now she has a different approach.

"I’m concentrating a lot on working hard, being very humble," Muguruza said.

"Most people think that if you win a Grand Slam, you know, you have that extra confidence, so much confidence that you’re going to win matches by miracle. In fact, it’s not like that, because you have all these opponents that they just want to beat you, and they’re playing very well as well."

Bouchard rose to fame in 2014, reaching a career-high No. 5 ranking when she made the Wimbledon final after two straight Grand Slam semifinal appearances. But since then Canada’s top women’s singles player has slid down the WTA ranks to No. 70.

That’s something that Wozniacki, a former World No. 1, can relate to.

The Danish star reached the top of women’s tennis from 2010 to 2011, maintaining a top-10 ranking over the next few years before plunging to No. 60 last summer. While part of that dip came from injuries that kept her out of the game, she said she was thankful for that time off.

"I wasn’t really stressing about (the rankings)," said Wozniacki, now back up to sixth in the world. "I knew that if I played decent tennis my ranking was going to go up again. And it’s been a great year for me. … I kept my head down and no matter what everyone was saying I did my thing.

"I learned a lot about myself and had an awesome time at home. Then when I came back I was enjoying being on tour too. … Without knowing it I needed a little break to just kind of start from scratch and build myself up."

Bouchard, who has competed in the main draw at the Rogers Cup in seven straight years, talked before the tournament about still being nervous to compete in her home country.

After her loss, the 23-year-old said she wanted 17-year-old Bianca Andreescu of Mississauga, Ont., to do well this week so "someone else can carry the burden of Canada."

Halep, the World No. 2 and defending champion at the Rogers Cup, has experience with that. As Romania’s top player, she’s been her country’s best chance at a Grand Slam for years.

"It’s fine, it doesn’t bother me anymore," the 25-year-old Halep said earlier this week. "At the beginning I didn’t know how to handle it, I lost a lot of energy in the past but now I handle it pretty well and I feel good when I go home always."

Halep, who played her first match of her title defence Wednesday night, said she tends to find her motivation online.

"Everyday I’m going through (motivational sayings), I’m checking on the internet," she said. "I like to read those things and I think they give me a little bit of impulse to go ahead.’


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