World No. 168 Eugenie Bouchard has made her way into a Grand Slam third round for the first time since the 2017 Australian Open. Her 5-7, 6-4, 6-3 win over Daria Gavrilova at Roland Garros on Wednesday is yet another sign of her upward trajectory.
"To her credit, she played well, took that first set," Bouchard said. "The fact I was able to bounce back is something I'm super proud of, is a testament to the mental strength I've been working on."
After a challenging 2019 season saw her drop 13 matches in a row, the Canadian's ranking sank outside of the Top 250. With very few tournament opportunities in 2020, the former world No. 5 saw herself sitting at No. 330 in August. While she threw herself into exhibitions and a full season of World TeamTennis in West Virginia, the lack of ITF events on the calendar meant few chances at earning points loomed on the horizon.
Thankfully, Bouchard got a wild card into the WTA International Prague, where she made the quarterfinals. Ahead of that run, she said on the TENNIS.com Podcast that she was going to put a lot of pressure on herself with so few opportunities available.
Two weeks later, Istanbul tournament organizers took a chance on her and she would be points away from the title after starting off as a qualifying wild card. Roland Garros followed the trend by offering the 26-year-old a spot in the main draw.
"I'm proud of taking advantage of the opportunities," she said. "There are so few tournaments this year, especially with my ranking, I was very limited with what I could play. I've tried to push myself in every chance I've had because I know there are so few."
While being in the third round is a great achievement, Bouchard expects a lot more from herself. It makes sense given that in 2014 she burst onto the scene by reaching the semifinals of the Australian Open and Roland Garros, and the final of Wimbledon.
"I think deep down still believing in myself no matter what, knowing my skill can't just go away, knowing that I've achieved success before," Bouchard said of what's kept her going. "It's just something that I'll always have, reinforces my belief. That's what I use when I need to work hard, when times are tough."
Instead of sulking after the 2019 season, she got to work and then took advantage of the tour shutdown to get into even better shape, both physically and mentally. Though a Montreal native and Miami resident, she began training in Las Vegas with the likes of Gil Reyes, Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf. She's had Las Vegas-based coach Tim Blenkiron on the road with her the past few weeks.
The Vegas vibes are suiting her, to say the very least.
"I'm so grateful for [Reyes'] help," Bouchard said. "I mean, I've known him for, like, 10 years, but I've committed to working with him last October. We've spent so much time together, put so much work together. He believes in me so much. It helps me believe in myself."
The work is paying off and the opportunities keep coming: She'll take on unseeded Polish teenager Iga Swiatek for a spot in the fourth round.