Sports

Eugenie Bouchard captured Canadian hearts, Australian eyes at 2014 Open

Canadian tennis star Eugenie Bouchard, during Wimbledon 2013. - Wikimedia Commons (author Edwin Martinez)
Canadian tennis star Eugenie Bouchard, during Wimbledon 2013.
— image credit: Wikimedia Commons (author Edwin Martinez)

By now, you know. Eugenie Bouchard is out of the Australian Open, after a run that seemed to end as enthusiastically as it gained steam, with the 19-year-old phenom going down in straight sets to a robotically excellent Li Na.

Na was sensational in the first set, jumping out to a 5-0 lead over the over-matched (at least, early on) Bouchard, although the Canadian rebounded to make a day of it. Or a night of it, if you were watching in Canada. Bouchard went on a 4-1 game-winning run, taking a 2-0 lead in the second set before Na returned to her typical Terminator form.

When she's on her game, Na is immovable. And Bouchard, who had made the Aussie semis with skill, speed, and the sort of all-world impending stardom we rarely see in Canucks not named Gretzky, Trudeau, or (honestly) Bieber, fell behind too much, too early.

Final score: 2-6, 4-6.

But in this tournament – and, more specifically, over the past three games, from her 4th round victory to her stomping of Ana Ivanovic, to last night's loss – Bouchard captured the attention of a nation. More than that, she captured the attention of Australia – you didn't know 'Genie's Army' was a bunch of Aussies, did you? – and the tennis world.

"It's amazing, we talk so much about physically and the natural athletes of the game, but we don't talk enough about mentally, that aspect and how important that is," said tennis legend Chris Evert on Tuesday, on ESPN's Australian Open broadcast. "She just deals with the pressure so beautifully.

"You can't teach that. You're born with it... Nothing fazed her, and that's a gift that she has."

Evert's former rival-slash-best friend Martina Navritolova, also known as the best women's tennis player of all time, said Bouchard was a "potential future No. 1" and is "technically as sound as she can be."

If it means anything, our megaphone hogging friends in the United States are as abuzz about Bouchard as we goofy Canadians are.

"Genie Bouchard is ahead of schedule," wrote Business Insider's Tony Manfred. "If she continues on her current trajectory, she has the combination of poise, personality, looks, and skill to be a huge crossover star."

(Manfred's article was titled "Meet Genie Bouchard, The 19-Year-Old Who's Going To Be Your New Favourite Tennis Player".)

"As we've seen with other good-looking women's tennis players, the endorsement potential is enormous as long as you can back it up on the court."

Eugenie Bouchard is Canadian, and it's terrific. But from now on, we're going to have to share her.

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