Eugenie Bouchard held it together to once again get out of a jam at the Qatar Total Open Sunday night. She survived numerous mistakes and a push from Anastasija Sevastova to make it to the second round 5-7, 6-3, 7-6(4) on Centre Court at the Khalifa International Tennis Complex.
It’s been over a month since the Canadian has been in action with her second round loss to Agnieszka Radwanska at the Australian Open. With her progress looking better for the season, Bouchard decided to take the time off and make a great run in Doha for the first time since 2014 when she lost in the first round.
For the 95th ranked Latvian, her efforts didn’t come easy to qualify playing in a hard fought three set match where each went to their full extent making it out alive. While her history against top ranked players hadn’t been good, she could still play role of eliminator with the tournament just getting started.
Sevastova leveled well in the first pair of games before her attack on the Canadian paid off huge. She broke Bouchard in the third before taking a five-break draw on deuce to win herself a 3-1 lead in the set. Bouchard tried to recover back on serve but a second double fault and great returns from the Latvian had her down three games.
A good pickup for Bouchard in the sixth helped her break Sevastova after three breaks to split her lead in half. Comfortability was starting to follow suit for the Canadian as her service got her out of trouble and within reach of leveling. The fights continued to come on deuce as the Latvian tried to close the door on Bouchard’s complete comeback. She lost control as the Canadian had a lot of energy on to break away and tie the set at four games all.
Bouchard won the ninth taking her chance on the break for the set but Sevastova was a force that couldn’t be controlled as the Latvian pushed the set onward for seven to be won one way or another. Sevastova had Bouchard on the ropes; as the 21 couldn’t contain her opponent on serve that led to her fighting to pull off a tiebreaker if one would come.
It didn’t, as the qualifier shut Bouchard down but good giving her the victory in 48 minutes. She had a 65 first serve percentage with just eight unforced errors through 12 games. It was Bouchard’s three double faults, 20 unforced errors and two of nine break points won that cost her the big hole in the match.
The second set was another neck and neck race for the two players with Bouchard trying to get out front and make some intention to dictate the set. She got a break on serve in the fifth to win it and take a lead she didn’t want to give up. Securing two more wins got her in position to win the set against Sevastova in the eighth. The Latvian killed the Canadian’s smooth run of winning and took a victory of her own.
Bouchard returned to serve out the set in the ninth but mistakes gave Sevastova a 0-30 hold. Unforced errors across court got Bouchard back in it where after a two-break draw on deuce, she held things together winning the set moving into the deciding third set. Bouchard had a much improved set serving at 66 percent cutting the number of unforced errors by half scoring 10 winners against Sevastova. The shots near the net helped out much more in what was another set finished in 38 minutes.
Just when it looked as if she would climb back and take the opening round, her opponent struck back ferociously. Sevastova took a massive 3-0 hold getting halfway to a match victory. She gained a fourth straight as Bouchard lost key points to the Latvian that had the set all but lost dropping her second service chance. She broke in the fifth and won the next to regain some leverage in the set but the gap was still one to have difficulty coming back from.
The Canadian was on the ropes after seven games serving to stay in the tournament in the eighth with Sevastova on the verge of an upset. She avoided a loss of control to climb back and hold on. Sevastova got frustrated in the ninth giving Bouchard a lead due to unforced errors but a double fault and pressure from Bouchard made it a tight set at 5-4. The Canadian pulled off the comeback as she struck back on service in the tenth that forced the set to carry on and bring her back in it.
Sevastova once again took back the lead but her gaining the victory wasn’t going easily. She had Bouchard all over her on service firing big shots that had the two fighting on deuce. It was turning into the longest game of the match with Bouchard trying to put the set into a tiebreak in the seventh minute.
She got into the most important deuce draw of the match that not only extended the length of the game but had both players desperately seeking victory. After a 12:07 game, Bouchard held in well to launch a rally into play before firing a winner far away from Sevastova pressing a tiebreak. Bouchard got a 3-0 lead digging big shots across court gaining a double break. She held her own in the break winning 6-4 in the tiebreak ending a long 2 hour and 28 minute bout.
“I wanted to make it exciting for everyone,” Bouchard joked when talking with Guy Crane during her on court interview. “I was just in the moment and just kept trying to fight. It’s been awhile since I played a match and I didn’t want to live Doha that soon so I’m glad to stay here a couple of days.”
She’ll get Monday to rest before moving into her next match facing the winner between Elina Svitolina and Denisa Allertova.