Eugenie Bouchard took everyone by surprise with her incredible 6-0 6-3 win over World No. 40 Veronika Kudermetova in the first round of the 2020 Prague Open on Monday.
The win marked Bouchard's first win on clay since 2018, and ensured she would move into the next round with a minimum of fuss. She will now face Tamara Zidansek for a place in the quarterfinals.
The Canadian accepted a wildcard into the competition and immediately impressed by running up a 6-0 lead after just half an hour against Kurdermetova, who was seeded eighth at the tournament. Bouchard's trademark aggressive baseline game and strong serve were on full display against the Russian, as she conceded no breaks and hit 13 winners against a mere 10 unforced errors.
Her opponent on Thursday, World No. 72 Tamara Zidansek, would also be itching to make her mark in Prague after winning the doubles event in Palermo. The 22-year-old defeated Katerina Siniakova over two days in three hard-fought sets, and is certainly battle-ready.
Eugenie Bouchard vs Tamara Zidansek head-to-head
Eugenie Bouchard and Tamara Zidansek have faced off once before, at Wimbledon 2019. Zidansek got the better of the former World No. 5 in that tightly contested match, winning 6-3, 5-7, 8-6.
There was very little to choose between the two of them across all three sets, with their complimentary styles matching up to create some truly electrifying tennis for the first round of a Grand Slam.
Although Zidansek narrowly edged Bouchard, the Canadian broke serve nine times - one fewer than her Slovenian opponent. They went toe-to-toe with each other in most of the rallies from the baseline, and it would be interesting to see whether a similar pattern is repeated in Prague.
Eugenie Bouchard vs Tamara Zidansek prediction
If this matchup had taken place before Eugenie Bouchard's first-round drubbing of Kudermetova, Tamara Zidansek would have been touted as the clear favorite. But after the Slovenian's hard-fought match over two draining days and Bouchard's borderline effortless show, the Canadian has more than a decent shot.
Bouchard has, however, been severely inconsistent in recent times, so it remains to be seen whether she can maintain her high level. For Zidansek to win, she would have to exploit the relatively poor defensive game of the former Wimbledon finalist and outhit her from the baseline.
Prediction: Eugenie Bouchard in two tight sets.
Tournament: Prague Open 2020
Venue: Prague, Czech Republic
Category: WTA International
Surface: Red clay
Prize money: $225,000
Timing: 11 am CEST, 2.30 pm IST