Why are they playing? Eugenie Bouchard suffers chest pains, rival couldn’t move due to Australian Open smoke
Just when the fall of Genie Bouchard looked set to hit a new low, the former world No. 5 has kept her Australian Open alive.
And she did it on a day of drama in Melbourne.
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Poor air quality forced five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova to call off her match at the Kooyong Classic, after Dalila Jakupovic retired from her qualifier having suffered a coughing fit on court, while Bouchard and other players requested medical assistance at Melbourne Park.
“The conditions were tough for sure. I’m not going to lie,” Bouchard told reporters after progressing to the second round of qualifying on Tuesday.
“By the end of the second set it was tough to breathe, so I got the physio and she gave me some stuff that helped. I’m happy I just fought through the third set.
“I felt like the conditions got worse as the much went on, but I was out there for a long time so I would definitely feel exhausted either way. It’s not ideal to play in these conditions that’s for sure, but the show must go on.
“I’m never one to want to stop playing, but I definitely started feeling unwell and I had to call the trainer because it was tough to breathe and I felt a bit nauseous.”
Air pollution is causing plenty of drama at Melbourne Park. 2014 semi-finalist Eugenie Bouchard is complaining of a sore chest and has just left the court with doctors.
— Braden Ingram (@bradeningram)
This story is going to explode: Canadian star Eugenie Bouchard taken off court for medical timeout due to smoke effects in Melbourne during qualifying. The tournament itself is only six days away.
— Neil McMahon (@NeilMcMahon)
Bouchard couldn’t have started much worse against world No. 210 Xiadoi You — a player who has never been ranked inside the top 200 on the WTA Tour — on 1573 Arena.
The 25-year-old dropped the first set 6-4 after drifting to 4-1 down early, then fought back to win the second set in a tiebreak before storming home to win the decider to love.
You, 23, succumbed to cramps in the third set and could barely move, reducing her to serve underarm at times in the decider.
Bouchard still looks a shadow of the player who finished 2014 at No. 5 — when she reached the Wimbledon final after making the semi-final stage of the Australian Open and Roland Garros — and 2015 at No. 6.
She hasn’t progressed past the third round of a Grand Slam since she reached the quarter-finals at the 2015 Australian Open, tumbling from the top 10 to out of the top 200 in the past handful of years.
Bouchard has become more well known for her social media presence — she has 2 million Instagram followers and 1.7 million on Twitter — in recent years than her tennis, but made a bright start to 2020 in New Zealand last week.
The right-hander reached the quarter-finals at last week’s ASB Classic in Auckland, where she beat world No. 79 Kirsten Flipkens and world No. 46 Caroline Garcia before pushing American teenager sensation Amanda Animisova — who is now ranked world No. 22 — to three sets.
After ironing out some of the creases in her game in the first set and a half, Bouchard said she will take confidence into her next match following a chaotic day.
“I’m disappointed in myself for how I started and acted in that first set, but I managed to figure her game out and get myself back on track. And at the end of the day, the end of the third set is what really mattered,” she said.
Bouchard will now face Australian Maddison Inglis in the second round of qualifying after the 21-year-old local product Slovakian Rebecca Sramkova earlier on Tuesday.