WASHINGTON, D.C. — When Christina McHale took to the court on Wednesday, she was the last remaining American woman left in the Citi Open draw. Eugenie Bouchard ruined McHale’s hopes of carrying the stars and stripes flag farther with a 7-6 (6), 6-0 win.
Both women are trying to ignite some fire into the latter part of their seasons after enduring rough patches dating back to the French Open (even farther for McHale). Bouchard has successfully put a stop to a four-match losing streak in her first match since Wimbledon, while McHale is 2-6 since playing in Paris.
In the first set, McHale had the better start, with her nose out in front, 5-3. Bouchard stayed both calm and aggressive to storm back to a 6-5 lead. But in that game, she saw four set points erased. She then squandered four more in the tiebreaker while up 6-2. Undeterred, she sealed the deal on her ninth chance.
"I didn't realize it was so many," Bouchard said. "I think it really shows that I really stayed in the moment and I really focused on not letting myself get frustrated, especially in the tiebreak... Just because I missed eight doesn't mean I'm going to miss the ninth one."
Bouchard is trying to turn hard work into results after a few weeks of training, including a few days in the Nevada desert with Novak Djokovic's coach, Andre Agassi.
"I'm not going to elaborate too much because that's top secret stuff," Bouchard said. "But I am just so grateful that I got to spend some time with him."
The Canadian was ranked as high as No. 5 in 2014, but her ranking has stalled out below the Top 40 in the past few years. She's at No. 73 this week—her lowest ranking in over four years, and her win on Wednesday was her first on hard courts since the Australian Open.
"When things are not going well it's always tougher to see the love for it," Bouchard said. "But actually, recently I feel like I've had really disappointing results and right now my love for the game could not be any more... I took some time to train, to have the right people around me, to think—soul search in a way—and realize, OK, I love this, this is what I want to do."
The love is seriously strong as she's even made time for doubles this week. Teaming up with Sloane Stephens, Bouchard beat the No. 3 seeded team of Mariana Duque-Marino and Maria Irigoyen, 2-6, 6-3, (10-6).
“We have the same agent, and I needed someone to play with so I was like let me ask my girl Genester,” Stephens said. “We've practiced a couple of times, but we were always [at the Saviano Tennis Academy] at different periods. I've known her for a really long time.”
Bouchard faces Andrea Petkovic in the second round, and she and Stephens will take on Nigina Abduraimova and Patricia Maria Tig in the doubles quarterfinals.
"Today I basically spent the whole day on the tennis court and I had so much fun. I was on the court in doubles and I didn't feel tired at all and I don't feel tired now," Bouchard said. "You realize when you don't put your own limitations on yourself you can do so much more than you think."
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