Melbourne - Eugenie
Bouchard's return to form gathered pace on Wednesday when she dispatched
tricky Chinese Peng Shuai in straight sets to blast into the Australian
Open third round.
The 22-year-old, on the comeback trail after her high-flying career
plunged into a tailspin, came through a testing tiebreaker to win 7-6
(7/5), 6-2 on Hisense Arena and keep her Grand Slam dreams alive.
Bouchard became one of the most bankable assets in women's tennis in
2014 when she stormed to the Wimbledon final as well as the semi-finals
of the Australian and French Opens.
But the confident, charismatic Canadian then saw her career nosedive in 2015 and her ranking slump.
She recently said she had rediscovered her motivation, with a run to
the semi-finals of this month's Sydney International boosting her
"In the first set I didn't play that great, I was a little bit nervous," she said.
"But overall I feel like I am getting better with every passing day. I'm honoured to be playing on such big courts."
The experienced Peng, a two-times Grand Slam doubles champion and a
US Open singles semi-finalist, was always going to be a difficult test.
But Bouchard rose to the challenge, coming through plenty of
gruelling, physical rallies in the first set with her athleticism to the
fore in a close-fought tiebreaker.
The Canadian, now ranked 47, scored a crucial second-set break in
game four and kept the pressure as Peng began to fade, winning with a
powerful forehand on her fourth match point.
She will next play either France's Pauline Parmentier or American
Coco Vandeweghe, with a potential fourth round clash world number one
Angelique Kerber, whom she beat in Rome last year, awaiting her.