LONDON (Reuters) - Canadian Eugenie Bouchard was labelled the new golden girl of tennis after reaching the 2014 Wimbledon final but on Tuesday she was scrapping with the also-rans in the qualifying event.
The 24-year-old, ranked 191 must survive three rounds of qualifying to reach next week’s main draw and made a solid start with a 6-2 6-0 thrashing of China’s Zhu Lin.
It was a far cry from Wimbledon Centre Court, however, scene of Bouchard’s final against Petra Kvitova four years ago.
The Bank of England Sports Club in Roehampton, alongside the headquarters of the International Tennis Federation (ITF) features rows of grass courts with precious little seating for fans who flock to the grounds to watch the hopefuls in action.
Bouchard was in good company though on Tuesday with two other former Wimbledon runners-ups in action.
Russia’s Vera Zvonareva, runner-up to Serena Williams in 2010, won her first round against Japan’s Eri Hozumi but Germany’s Sabine Lisicki, beaten by Marion Bartoli in 2013, fell 6-4 7-6(3) to Russian Anna Kalinskaya.
Bouchard, who will face Czech Karolina Muchova next, gave a terse interview to the BBC after her match.
“It’s not hard at all, I’m happy to be here,” she said after being asked if playing in qualifying was difficult for a player who reached a Grand Slam final and two semi-finals.
She reached number five in the world and has made nearly 6$ million in prize money but has slipped down the rankings after a career slump and a high-profile court case against the United States Tennis Association (USTA) following a slip in the changing rooms at the 2015 U.S. Open.
Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Alison Williams