The Canadian pulled off a comeback in the second set and went the distance to a deciding tiebreak but ultimately lost to Tamara Zidansek, who in her first career match at the All England Club won 6-3, 5-7, 8-6.
The 2014 finalist was back for her seventh run in the season’s third major hoping to better her efforts from last year. Her actions on court haven’t amounted to much making the first matchup with the 21-year-old Slovenian an even start for both.
This was Zidansek’s first entrance into the main draw with the hope that she could build upon a good win that occurred last week in Eastbourne. Despite having less experience with the grass courts than the Canadian, she held the potential chance to either dictate or get into a tight competition with Bouchard.
It seemed to go that way early as Zidansek answered Bouchard’s early break with a break back to remain even after two games.
When the Slovenian found a way to hold serve against the 25-year-old, the Canadian responded with a near perfect service game giving Zidansek just one point in the fourth.
She converted another break that gave her the lead with a shot to serve and open the gap. A critical double fault and a lagging first serve percentage blew the opportunity for the lead and instead had the Slovenian even with her at three apiece.
The opportunity for control opened for Zidansek as she held her end in the seventh and consolidated it with a break of Bouchard to serve for the set.
Needing very little effort, she brushed her way to keep focused and throw tough errors to the Canadian ending the set in 35 minutes. Bouchard committed five double faults which she knew was just enough to let Zidansek find ground and trust her service games.
The same didn’t happen for the Canadian as she started the second with another double fault giving Zidansek free points that gave her the opening break. An open court was a bad position for Bouchard to take as the 21-year-old used it to land a shot out of reach for her opponent and secure the hold.
Bouchard dug in to try and hold Zidansek from scoring the double break but couldn’t keep up with the rally pace that her opponent dictated on the returns.
Bouchard soon found her moment to improve scoring a break in the fourth and consolidated it with a hold thereafter. The battle she put together had Zidansek on her toes as she watched her dominance in the second set fade away.
The double break energized Bouchard dramatically to go for the lead on serve which came to the Canadian marking her first lead change of the match.
The Slovenian responded with a hold in the eighth to deny Bouchard any more ground to her end and piling on the pressure. Bouchard answered with another superb hold to force Zidansek into a decider or press more games into play.
She did just that, taking Bouchard’s challenge to heart but soon faced more down the road as the Canadian took the next two games to take the match into the decisive third set.
It was clear that the improvement of the first serve and ten winners truly helped Bouchard be a strong contender but adding on that against a formidable opponent would determine how the set went along.
The Slovenian set the pace with a break of Bouchard before adding shutout of the Canadian in the second. She gained the double break that opened the score at 3-0 with the 25 year old running out of ideas.
She found a way to get on the board and added three more before the 21-year-old knew what happened.
Having a second break in hand kept Zidansek ahead but a second triple break for Bouchard leveled the score at four all with the Canadian finding herself in a good spot to take over.
Before she could take the lead, the 21-year-old caught the break in the ninth to serve for the match and bring the Canadian’s challenging day on court to a halt.
Bouchard refused to let the Slovenian get the easy victory and put together a break point before a long return forced deuce.
Mistakes soon rattled Zidansek to drop serve and find herself in another tight finish with Bouchard.
A key hold gave the Canadian the pivotal 6-5 lead over the 21-year-old who was serving to stay alive in what was already a dramatic way to finish her career start at the AEC.
Bouchard pushed all-in in the 12th where she edged Zidansek just briefly before an error got her to 30-all.
She reached game point before awaiting a challenge on a shot that she barely got on the line to set up the penultimate tiebreak.
Zidansek took the 7-6 lead needing another to clinch the win but with the Canadian so close, she had to find a break back win.
The Slovenian put together some technical shots that gave her three match points where the second serve did the work to end Bouchard on a long return completing a two hour and 20 minute thriller.Published 03 Jul 2019, 10:48 IST