Sunday, 25 January 2015

Genie loves the majors

Having reached the fourth round of her fifth straight Grand Slam tournament, Canadian Eugenie Bouchard has gained a much sought after reputation as a big tournament specialist (two of those were semis and she was runner up at Wimbledon last year) - she now needs to win one and her CV will be the absolute envy of every young player on tour if it's not already.

Irina-Camelia Begu, whose has caused problems for three players this tournament on the way to the Romanian's best ever performance at GS level, would need to be at her precious best if she expected to oust Bouchard, who has just been looking great through her rounds, and with plenty of improvement in the tank when necessary.  At times she made Bertens and Garcia look like club players in the respective second and third round defeats she inflicted on them.

The first set against Begu followed a similar pattern.  While far from perfect - Bouchard's first serve percentage was low, she double faulted a few times and gave break opportunities to Begu - she used enough tennis smarts to work the ball to her advantage most of the time and with two breaks of the Romanian serve the maple leaf had pride of place 5-0.

The first break was set up by average play by Begu but finished off with winners from the Biuchard backhand. The second break was just a Begu train wreck in which Eugenie was not required to participate.
Bouchard had to fight hard in the fifth game, saving four break points before deciding that this was wasting time and serving it out.
Irina-Camelia must have gained some confidence from that effort because the next game was her first win for the evening - her last though for the set which went to Bouchard 6-1 and the participants in the next match were now preparing for the start of their match which by their reckoning would be only a short time away.

Their reckoning, together with Bouchard's, didn't account for a Begu revival in set two. 

Of course the revival didn't come until the match was just about called on humanitarian grounds - Canada was leading a set and 3-0 with two breaks and diplomatic relations between the nations was under threat if further cruelty was inflicted.
Begu won four straight games, sealing a 4-3 lead with an ace.  For the first time in the tournament Genie was experiencing what she usually inflicts.

After she stretched that to five with yet another break Irina-Camelia felt the wrath of Bouchard in the form of three stunning forehands to retrieve the break and trail 4-5.

Begu had two set points on the Bouchard serve which went begging, but on the next Canadian serve at 5-6 the Romanian did enough right to claim another break - the seventh in total for the set - to even the match 1-6 7-5.

Genie had had her lapse and regrouped for the final set where she imposed her game on the Romanian.  The poor first serve percentage was lifted to nearly passable, she won 31 points to 19, significantly returning well and pressuring Begu into attempting too much on occasion.

No breaks in this set except the two for Bouchard which she deposited into her account and she reaped the reward of a solid win 6-1 5-7 6-2.

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