Bouchard unsurprised by rapid rise
Originally published on 21/01/14
A year ago, Bouchard arrived in Melbourne ranked No.145 in the world and failed to qualify for the main draw after losing in the second round of qualifying. Twelve months on, not only was Bouchard in the draw, she was seeded No.30.
The Canadian stormed into the fourth round of a major for the first time without dropping a set, but she did not stop there, as she came from a set down to defeat home favourite Casey Dellacqua to reach the quarter-finals. There she came up against an in-form Ana Ivanovic, who had upset top seed Serena Williams in the previous round.
Playing on Rod Laver Arena for the first time, Bouchard felt like she had been there before. She had already beaten Ivanovic on the big stage, upsetting the former French Open champion on Centre Court at Wimbledon last year. And she did it again, coming from behind to reach the last four with a 5-7 7-5 6-2 victory.
“I think the matches I had last year on the big courts, like [Maria] Sharapova at the French Open, Ivanovic at Wimbledon, just being on those big stages gave me a lot of experience,” Bouchard said. “Now walking out on centre court in Australia, I feel like I've been here before. I've been able to perform on big stages as well. It gives me that extra confidence.”
Playing in her first Australian Open, it is a remarkable run for the 19-year-old, but she insists her success has not come as a surprise.
“It's something I've been doing since I was five years old and working my whole life for and sacrificing a lot of things for,” she said. “So it's not exactly a surprise. I always expect myself to do well. I'm just happy to have gone through this step. I'm not done. I have a match on Thursday. I'm just looking forward to that.”
That match on Thursday is against world No.3 Li Na, a beaten finalist in Melbourne last year. The former French Open champion saved match point in her third-round match against Lucie Safarova, but she lost just six games as she dismissed Flavia Pennetta 6-2 6-2.
“It's going to be really tough,” Bouchard said of her next opponent. “I played her once in Montreal two years ago. We had a close match. But it was one of my first bigger matches. It will be interesting to play her. I know she's very solid, very good from the back. It's going to be hard, but I'm looking forward to it.”