Heartbreak in Montreal: Bouchard loses Rogers Cup opener
Canadian Eugenie Bouchard reacts during a break in play against American Shelby Rogers at the Rogers Cup at Uniprix Stadium on August 5, 2014. (QMI Agency)
The Canadian flags slumped limply over railings and groans echoed through Uniprix Stadium every time Eugenie Bouchard missed shots, which happened far too often on Tuesday evening.
The capacity crowd sat in stunned silence as American Shelby Rogers hit winner after winner in the Rogers Cup second-round match.
The world's 113th-ranked player ruined the rest of the week for Canadian tennis fans, sending Bouchard down in defeat, 6-0, 2-6, 6-0 for Rogers' first win over a top-10 player.
Bouchard admitted afterward that the pressure of delivering in front of the home crowd as a newly-crowned star was a distraction.
"I felt the pressure for sure and it's something that I'll have to get used to," said Bouchard, who should maintain her No. 8 WTA ranking despite the upset loss.
She hadn't played a competitive match since early July's Wimbledon final and lacked precision for most of the evening.
"There is always a difference between a match and practice," said Bouchard, adding that the long layoff wasn't an excuse. "I knew before playing (Tuesday) that it would be difficult but that's the schedule and I have to play."
Bouchard failed to win more than two points in any game in the first set and the crowd appeared to have given up on their darling, who had generated so much excitement with a sensational season that's included three Grand Slams semis.
But the top-ranked Canadian woman in history did show promise in the second set, jumping on Rogers immediately.
The 20-year-old from Westmount, Que. held serve in the first game and pushed Rogers to two break points in the second before waiting for a return by the American to hit the net for Bouchard's first break of the match and a 2-0 lead.
Rogers pushed Bouchard to deuce in the third game and broke her with a cross-court winner to cut the lead to 2-1.
Bouchard broke the South Carolinian right back to go up 3-1, then slammed an ace to take a 4-1 lead, looking like a totally reinvigorated player. She took the second set 6-2, breaking Rogers twice more in the process.
Then, as quickly as Bouchard had regained the momentum, Rogers asserted herself convincingly to close out the match at Centre Court.
She broke Bouchard three times in the third set and did a double fist pump when Bouchard's forehand sailed long on the penultimate point.
Rogers now has two career wins to no losses against Bouchard following a 6-4, 1-6, 6-3 victory in a qualifying match in Troy, Ala. in 2011.
Just 21 years old, the cherubic American showed that she, too, is one of the WTA's young guns.
Prior to this week she had just two wins over top-20 players and both came just a few weeks ago in Germany against No. 16 Carla Suarez Navarro and No. 14 Sara Errani.
Meanwhile, Bouchard has yet to impose herself in three Rogers Cup main draw appearances, failing to advance past the second round.
Earlier on Tuesday, American Venus Williams won her first-ever match at a Rogers Cup tournament in Montreal.
The 34-year-old Californian upended Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-1, 3-6, 6-2 in a match delayed by a power outage at the stadium.
Tournament director Eugene Lapierre says Hydro-Quebec called him, blaming a blown transformer.
He said the tournament is still headed for record attendance, though Lapierre admits the loss of power and the loss of the tournament's top draw "was historic for all the wrong reasons."
Williams's first appearance in La Belle Province was memorable not only for her victory, but for the electronics-free ambience reminiscent of amateur tournaments or a weekend at the tennis club.
The chair umpire signaled the score directly to the players in the third set, unable to make announcements on the system at Uniprix Stadium.
The power outage was neighbourhood-wide and the rest of the day's matches continued with blank scoreboards.
Williams, ranked 26th on tour, next faces 164th-ranked Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan.
Putintseva upset 14th-ranked Italian Flavia Pennetta on Monday.
Other seeded winners Tuesday included Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska (3rd), Serb Ana Ivanovic (9th), and Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro (14th).
Now that Bouchard is out, do you still care about the Rogers Cup?
Yes, lots of great tennis left
Nope, what's the point now?
Didn't care to start...