Eugenie Bouchard had a serious up and down match but came out the winner at the ASB Classic Wednesday night. The Canadian had more than a fight on her hands against Bibiane Schoofs but cleared the way to victory with a 6-7(5) 6-4, 6-4 score on center court at the ASB Arena in Auckland.
The Canadian who had a great first match of 2019 would look to surpass her best finish from six years back and climb forward in the tournament. While she hasn’t faced the 30-year-old Dutch player before, she would be up against a seasoned opponent with experience. With new coach Michael Joyce getting her through the win on Sunday against Madison Brengle, the 24-year-old would push with all her effort to keep the positive vibes high.
She recorded a serve to love against her Dutch opponent before breaking her down in the second to widen the gap. Schoofs broke Bouchard back getting well ahead of the Canadian to have the chances there to get it done. She leveled the score as they soon found some stability in their service games with the Canadian still in the lead after five. They remained on serve till the eighth when Bouchard scored a key break to serve for the set in the ninth.
Schoofs wasn’t ready to fall out of the competition doing deep against the Canadian’s service. She created a number of breakpoints and stopped Bouchard from her first set point. After four breaks, Schoofs' return caught the line just enough to give her the win sitting a game down. It was soon tied up by the 30-year-old who blanked the competition before ravaging Bouchard with a double break.
The Canadian lost her cool slamming the racket down near her seat which she received a warning for. When it looked as if Schoofs would have the set in hand, she watched Bouchard come in the court and return back shots that gave her some leverage. She concluded the game by making sure she was the one forcing a tiebreak.
That also didn’t go her way to start as the Dutch star opened a 3-0 lead capitalizing on the mini-break. Bouchard tried to climb back but the margin remained firm for Schoofs who had four set points blown but still got the job done after 61 minutes.
They began the second set playing on serve with Bouchard showing some stability and mental strength. She had to put in a lot of effort in the fourth as Schoofs was eyeing another break. After a second deuce and a break point saved, the 24-year-old kept the situation even. The players began to break one another starting with Bouchard who gained two before capping the fifth and the lead.
They went another three straight with the situation still favorably in the hands of the Canadian who wanted a third set in play. She was reinvigorated by her great movements and response against Schoofs. Her service game in the tenth was working so well giving her two set points. With one left, she carried some aggression in the rally to set up the crosscourt winner and capture the set in 45 minutes.
There was a colorful choice of words used by Michael Joyce in regards to Bouchard’s attitude and how it helped her play faster and more accurately. It set up a number of service breaks in the deciding set beginning with Bouchard getting the first against Schoofs.
The Dutch star responded with a force of deuce before getting it on the second break point. It stood as her only win as the Canadian displayed a lot of battling qualities going 4-1 before Schoofs gained another game-winner on a break. While Bouchard moved along towards setting up an end to the match, Schoofs climbed back to give it everything she had left with more than two hours in the books.
After a blanking of the 30-year-old in the eighth, Bouchard eyed her shot to bring an end to the night in the ninth with a match point but was forced to deuce in the process. Schoofs fought to a second break before securing the win that really put the situation on edge.
With something left in the tank, Bouchard was able to hold it together giving Schoofs just one point in the tenth before completing the victory that took her 2 hours and 39 minutes to get.
“It was a very tough match,” Bouchard said during her on-court interview. “I don’t think I played my best at times, and I don’t think I had a great attitude, but I’m glad I got myself together in the third and just kept fighting no matter what.” She’ll await the winner between Julia Goerges and Mona Barthel in the quarterfinals.Published 02 Jan 2019, 15:01 IST