September 29, 2013 by Parveer Mann
These past few days in Tokyo, Eugenie Bouchard provided many reasons for why many in tennis are excited to see her come into her own on the WTA tour.
Her wins over Sloane Stephens and Jelena Jankovic this week may have been Bouchard’s best on tour to date. Not only because they were against top-10 caliber players, it’s the fact that they came on back-to-back days. The young Canadian showed an element that is often lacking in young players, the ability to remain consistent over the course of multiple matches. Add her win over Ana Ivanovic at this year’s Wimbledon; Bouchard has three top-15 wins this year alone (more than another youngster Laura Robson).
In addition, it was the deepest she’s ever gone at a WTA Premier event and it has allowed her to move up into the mid-30’s in the rankings. She’ll supplant Robson as the highest ranking teenager (we’ll look at the significance of that later in the article). However, the biggest acknowledgement this week may have come from Venus Williams (after their thrilling three set match in the QF’s):
“Wow, she played so well, she’s going to be a great player – she already is a great player,” Williams said in her on-court interview after her win over Bouchard in Tokyo. wta.com
As Billy Crudup would say, Getting praise from a legend. Priceless.
Race to #1 Ranked Teenager
At 19, Genie is part of a select few women who are supposedly shaping the future of the WTA. However, she is one of the first to admit that the tour has changed to the extent that youth is not a player’s greatest asset.
Since Maria Sharapova turned 20 in 2007 (an important date because Maria was undoubtedly the last teenage star on tour after winning two slams as a teenager), the highest ranked teenager has invariably had mixed results. The most striking piece of information may be that there has not always been improvement year to year
Table 1: Highest Ranked Teenagers on WTA tour since 2007 (year-end ranking)
|Player (Nationality and Age)||Year (Ranking)||Following year (Ranking)|
|Sloane Stephens (USA, 19)||2012 (38)||2013 (Currently 13)|
|Christina McHale (USA, 19)||2011 (43)||2012 (33)|
|Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (Rus, 19)||2010 (21)||2011 (40)|
|Caroline Wozniacki (Den, 19)||2009 (4)||2010 (1)|
|Agnieszka Radwanksa (Pol, 19)||2008 (10)||2009 (10)|
|Nicole Vaidisova (Cze, 18)||2007 (13)||2008 (41)|
This year, the honour will most likely come down to Bouchard, Robson or Madison Keys. If it is Genie, many fans and pundits will undoubtedly start to expect more from her and it will be up to her to earn that attention and promise.
Highlights of the Tennis Weekend
Genie’s compatriot Milos Raonic was mighty impressive in his triumph in Thailand. In the process, he was able to get some revenge on Richard Gasquet, who defeated Raonic in five sets in New York. Raonic and most of the other top men will continue their charge to London with events in Beijing and Tokyo next week.