Eugenie Bouchard came out with a push to be her best in 2020 and did it in a thriller at the ASB Classic on Monday night. The Canadian superstar overcame a 2-5 deficit in the first set to push Kirsten Flipkens to the brink and win 7-5, 7-5 on Stadium Court at the ASB Tennis Arena.
The two met last March at Indian Wells where the wind made it very difficult for the Canadian to match even with the Belgian. While she did not go three sets, the 25-year-old showed her signature fight like in many of her matches in 2019. In her third appearance, Bouchard would try to surpass her quarterfinal finish last year. Flipkens made the Round of 16 twice and a victory would give her two on Bouchard and put her in a spot to make her third.
The Belgian served first, holding the Canadian to a single point before getting into a fight to earn an early break. Bouchard wouldn’t give her that opportunity despite blowing a 40-15 lead. She held on the first break of deuce, but let things get out of hand. Flipkens won three straight, earning a break in the fourth game to stand at 4-1. A sudden change of energy came in the shape of serve to love from Bouchard, letting her support in the stands know she wasn’t out.
Flipkens recorded a serve to love in the seventh but made a key error with a double fault in the ninth that brought the Canadian within reach of a tie. Bouchard completed the comeback with a hold of serve on the first break of deuce. She got aggressive in the 11th edging at 40-30 before the Belgian saved serve to force deuce. She blew her shot at gaining the lead, which Bouchard captured on the second breakpoint chance to lead 6-5. The 25-year-old made good on serve in the 12th to achieve three set points, letting one go but scoring the victory in 52 minutes.
The second set began with Flipkens once again leading the way on service holds that lasted seven games. Jorge Todero came out for a conference with Bouchard telling her how to adjust to edge during the close scoring games they both played. Bouchard continued her success of consistent service games, looking for her opponent to blink first. Flipkens refused to do so, as she scored the win to edge Bouchard 5-4 unable to make the counterattacks necessary to achieve the break.
They reached a five-all tie with Bouchard winning a key victory in the 11th. Gaining breakpoints on Flipkens, the Canadian put it away on her second attempt to sit 6-5 with the ball in hand for the match. Staying focused in the moment, Bouchard stayed dug in during the rallies and placed the ball well on match point to win in 1 hour and 39 minutes.
“It made me get right into it,” Bouchard said when asked about her fighting spirit. “This is exactly what I want. I want to get matches, and there’s no better way to start than here in Auckland.” I didn’t start that well. I felt a little slow, and rusty but I’m happy that I fought it out.”Published 06 Jan 2020, 15:23 IST