January 15, 2014 by Parveer Mann
Originally published on Back Row Sports
After finally capitalizing on her seventh match point, Genie Bouchard seemed quite relieved to be moving on at the Australian Open and most importantly not having to venture into a third set against the experienced Virginie Razzano. However, all of us watching at home had already moved on to the bigger picture and began to speculate if we were witnessing Genie’s first chance to star on the big stage.
At only 19, Bouchard came into this tournament with increasingly higher expectations. She was ranked at a Slam for the first time in her career after finishing 2013 on a high note (a finalist in Osaka in October). She had a slew of noteworthy Top 20 wins last year (most by a teenager) and those wins started to legitimize her with even the biggest pundits. In her home country, she had already been crowned the Canadian Female Athlete of the year and had moved her into the national sports conversation. But as we know, a Grand Slam is a different beast.
Genie’s path clears
When the draw came out last week, she was placed in a section that seemed favourable. Her most likely opponents would be the struggling Sara Errani in the third round and either Vinci or Flipkens in the fourth. I felt it would be a tough task but a highly manageable one for the young Canadian. However, not often does a draw open up like it has for Genie this year.
After early exits by Errani, Vinci, Flipkens and the equally promising newcomer Madison Keys, Bouchard is suddenly the favourite to reach the quarterfinals and a possible matchup with Serena Williams. This would be a huge opportunity for any young player but especially one who has the momentum that Genie has behind her. She addressed the idea of being a favourite with an interviewer associated with the Australian Open after her second round match.
For sure it’s different now. I came into this slam seeded now for the first time. So, of course, my first few rounds I’m expected to win. I always expect myself to do well.
I just try to ignore the outside expectations and pressure and really just focus on what I need to do. At the end of the day, I really need to perform. I can’t really worry about what people say on the outside.
I feel Bouchard has the right mentality moving forward this week about expectations and pressure. It’s entirely beyond her control but still could be nerve wracking when you’re in the thick of it. Personally, I’m sure she’s at least a little excited about the possibilities this week and how she’s put herself in the best position she’s ever been in.
Her next match will be against American Lauren Davis on Friday and we’ll see how it goes from there but as a fan, you can’t help but get excited about a new star and their potential breakthrough Slam. And anyways, who would oppose a Serena vs. Genie matchup on Monday, certainly not me.