(Reuters) - Oblivious to a row brewing over her withdrawal from last year’s Hong Kong Open, Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard continued her impressive run at the Hopman Cup with a straight sets victory over Italian Flavia Pennetta on Thursday.
The 20-year-old Bouchard, who thrashed American world number one Serena Williams in the mixed team event on Tuesday, beat Pennetta 6-3 6-4 without being broken in the match in Perth.
“Each game was kind of like a battle and I‘m happy I was able to keep my serve in the second set, you know she was really putting pressure on me,” Bouchard said after defeating the world number 12.
The Canadian world number six was, however, unaware that her last minute withdrawal from last September’s inaugural Hong Kong Open, which drew the ire of the organizers, remained a hot topic on Thursday.
The Hong Kong Tennis Association (HKTA) publicly criticized Bouchard, who said she was tired after playing at the U.S. Open, for which they have been fined $10,000.
The WTA cited a breach of code of conduct by the HKTA and said the comments had hurt Bouchard’s reputation and financial interests, according to a South China Morning Post report.
HKTA president Herbert Chow Siu-lung called the WTA sanction as “injustice” and said the association would appeal against it.
“I see this as an act of bullying and intimidation and I ask that this (HKTA) council responds responsibly to such injustice from the WTA,” Chow was quoted as saying in the report.
”I am disappointed the WTA has taken this small-minded action to punish a new event on the WTA calendar, which was operated so successfully.
”I am baffled the WTA has ignored the efforts of the Hong Kong Tennis Open and just focused on protecting and spoiling one player.
“The conduct clause they cited was meant to protect all three stakeholders: the tournament, WTA and players. The HKTA will definitely make an appeal over this fine and will also seek an apology from the WTA.”
Writing by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; Editing by John O'Brien