From Glory to Misery: Why it All Went Wrong for Eugenie Bouchard

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Almost four years ago, Eugenie Bouchard set the tennis world alight after storming into the Top 5 in the world. She fought her way to the final of Wimbledon and the semi finals of Melbourne and Paris at just the age of twenty and was expected to be the next big thing in the coming years. Today she stands at #117.

Her singles ranking has gotten so low that she has opted to play a WTA event in Strasbourg rather than playing in the French Open Qualifying Draw. This means she will miss her very first Slam since the start of 2013 and further highlights the deterioration in her tennis level. But what are the reasons for her plummet down the rankings?

1. Lack of confidence

One of the main reasons for the Montreal-born player’s success throughout 2014 was because of her aggressive playing style and her fighting spirit. More recently, however, she tends to either not be aggressive enough or to hit an excessive amount of unforced errors. After having a lackluster 2015 season, she lost the majority of her self-assurance and started to have large losing streaks that only exacerbated her problem. Not only did other people have high expectations of her, but she also saw the potential in herself and when she realized that she was failing to meet the standards, she started to become more negative, hit more errors, and in turn lose more self-belief.

2. Inability to adapt

What made the 24-year-old so successful was her ability to take the ball on early and always be on the offense, but when she has found herself in trouble in a match, instead of finding ways to make it past her opponent she now has a tendency to continue doing the same things that had cost her previously. For example, in her Wimbledon 2014 final against the big-hitting Czech player Petra Kvitova, she lost the first set by going for too much and hitting too many unforced errors. Instead of changing her tactics for the second set, she did the exact same thing as before. She didn’t try to do anything different by varying her shot selection or increasing her margins–she did the same thing that made her lose the first set. This was made clearly evident by the score line (6-3, 6-0 to Kvitova), but from 2015 onwards this has happened to Bouchard much more frequently and contributed massively to a large number of her losses.

In addition, many other people have commented that Bouchard is an extremely hard-working player and she puts a lot of effort into her training–however, the issue with her training is that she always practices the same aspect of her game the majority of the time and keeps doing the same thing. The reason why this is an issue is because she can’t improve by repeating the same drills over and over again, and instead she needs to vary her training exercises and practice more skills that she has only touched on briefly.

3. Forehand technique

As mentioned before, Bouchard loves to hit the ball very early. The problem with this is that she tends to move her racquet back to swing significantly too early on her forehand, reducing all the momentum she could possibly get if she swung the racquet back in time.

When players move towards the ball, the momentum is also going in the same direction; this adds much more power and speed to the shot that is about to be hit. Even more power can be added to the ball if the racquet is swung at the correct time. If the racquet is swung too late, not enough momentum is created. If the racquet is swung too early, momentum is created by moving towards a shorter ball, but the momentum can be cancelled out by the fact that the racquet is too far behind and the swing can also feel unnatural because it is trailing behind where all the body weight and momentum is. This is the exact issue with Bouchard and is massively reducing the strength and control that she could potentially have on her forehand.

Bouchard has always been a talented player with all the skills necessary to be in the top 10 once again, but she needs to realise what made her so successful in 2014 can’t just come back to her overnight. She needs to change her ways herself, improve her mentality in order to let her put losses and unforced errors behind her and change her bad habits before they become instinctive to her.

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