By Erin Bruehl
Throughout the year, EmiratesUSOpenSeries.com will feature players who could make an impact during this year's Series. Here’s a look at 19-year-old Canadian rising star Eugenie Bouchard.
The Baseline: If you had not heard of Eugenie Bouchard before the 2014 Australian Open, you surely have now – and not because she tweeted with Justin Bieber. Bouchard starred in Melbourne, cementing her place as a rising star in the women’s game with a run to the semifinals, including a three-set win over former world No. 1 Ana Ivanovic.
Bouchard’s start to this year built on a breakout 2013, during which she transitioned from the junior ranks to the pros and played fearlessly on the biggest stages, pushing Serena Williams to three sets in Cincinnati and Angelique Kerber to the limit at the US Open. In doing so, she finished as the year-end No. 32, one year after sitting at No. 144.
Bouchard also used 2013 to refine her game, playing a more offensive, big-hitting and big-serving style. Those attributes were on display in Melbourne. She hit with power and precision off both sides, giving her opponents fewer weaknesses to exploit, and played with the confidence and mental toughness of a seasoned player throughout a run that pushed her into the Top 20 for the first time.
The Breakdown: Barring injury, Bouchard should continue to rise up the rankings in 2014. She has few points to defend in the coming months, meaning she is likely to be a Top 15 player by the time the 2014 Emirates US Open Series kicks off.
Bouchard’s surge in 2013 really began after her three-set loss to Kerber last year in Flushing Meadows; subsequently, she reached the semifinals in Quebec City, the quarterfinals in Tokyo and the final in Osaka. The common thread among those results – as well as her run in Melbourne – is that they all came on outdoor hard courts, which complement her power off the ground and accentuate her improving power serve. Add in a little more big-match experience, and Bouchard could be a serious contender in this year's Series.