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In her first public comments since the US Open, Canadian tennis star Eugenie Bouchard won't commit to January's Australian Open
By Stephanie Myles
19 November, 2015 11:39 AM
Asked about whether she was looking forward to January's Australian Open, the first major of the 2016 season and her best tournament effort of the 2015 season, Bouchard was vague.
"I donít know yet. I donít want to make any comments or commitments in terms of that. Just doing my best to try to get healthy, and yeah, just want to stay positive," she said.
She's making it sound as if she has a choice in the matter. If she declares herself fit and healthy, she has no choice but to play the AO. Of course, it might suit her purposes to to be unfit ...
Morelli reiterated his stance that despite Bouchard's struggles in 2015, the 21-year-old had a legitimate shot at the US Open and the accident cost her a legitimate opportunity.
"My argument is, this is a young woman, at 21 years old, has already reached the semi-finals in two majors, the finals at Wimbledon, and was once ranked five in the world. The woman who won the US Open (Flavia Pennetta), was 32, never won a major and as soon as she won, she retired. And Serena didnít win, obviously," he said. "Genie was already in the round of 16. She was playing really, really well, and anyone who knows tennis knows the round of 16, not that bad. Not bad at all."
This is just whistling past the graveyard, ignoring inconvenient facts.
Bouchard's early 2016 schedule remains unconfirmed.
She reportedly was not interested in returning to Perth, Australia the first week of January to take part in the Hopman Cup, a mixed exhibition event she played in 2014 with Milos Raonic and this year with Vasek Pospisil. It would have been a perfect, no-pressure way to easy back into competition after what will essentially be four months away.
It makes it sound as if she had a big say in whether Canada would take part in the Hopman Cup next year. Well, maybe she had some influence. After all, she's the only viable option for a Canadian female player in that competition.
Rather, reports this week were that Bouchard is already entered in the WTA tournament in Shenzen, China, which takes place the same week and is arguably the most low-profile of the tournaments on the schedule that week. (The others are in Brisbane, Australia - a Premier event with a tougher field and more prize money - and Auckland, New Zealand, which is a lot closer to the site of the Australian Open in Melbourne).
As for the week before the Australian Open, which begins Jan. 18, Bouchard's currently-fallen ranking is likely to keep her out of another Premier event in Sydney, one she has played twice before. It's a 32-player draw and the average ranking cutoff over the last six editions has been No. 31 Ė a long way from Bouchard's currently WTA Tour ranking of No. 48.
She would need a wild card to avoid the relative ignominy of qualifying, and the tournament generally awards its available free passes to Australian players.
It's a 28-player draw, but yes, she's very unlikely to get in. She may not have gotten in event without being injured.
The other option would be a tournament Hobart, Tasmania, an International-level event. That's the lowest tier on the WTA Tour; Bouchard played just one tournament at that level in 2015, a grass-court tuneup in 's-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands before Wimbledon.
It's also the level where she's won her only WTA title to date.
She will be unseeded at the Australian Open, and therefore at the mercy of the draw gods to avoid facing a top player as early as the first round.
Well duh. Again, she might have been unseeded anyway.
She was under pressure all last year ... well, since after the AO anyway. This time, it's just going to start a few weeks earlier.