London - Eugenie Bouchard said she was
feeling the joy flowing again at Wimbledon after a torrid year that saw her
high-flying career plunge into a tailspin.
The 22-year-old said she was playing the
best she has all year after booking her place in Saturday's third round at the
All England Club.
The Canadian 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 blonde then
saw her career nosedive in 2015 and her ranking slump. The former world number
five is now ranked 48 and well outside the Wimbledon seedings.
"Everyone has ups and downs, in tennis
and in life," Bouchard said after beating British 16th seed Johanna Konta
6-3, 1-6, 6-1 on Centre Court on Thursday.
"So I have experienced both of those
to the extreme in tennis. I have learned a lot from it. I have been able to
experience feeling those expectations and pressure and all that kind of stuff,
which weighed down on me a little bit last year.
"So I have learned from that, and now
I really find the joy in tennis and only want to look forward and just try to
become the best player I can be."
The Quebec native was delighted with her
win over Konta, achieved before a partisan crowd for the British number one.
"It's my best performance of 2016. I
have been working very hard, and I know that matches like this with a good
performance will come, that it's just a question of time," she said.
"It was still a great atmosphere to
play, even if the whole crowd is against me. I see that as a challenge. I enjoy
the atmosphere no matter what, because as long as the fans are enjoying the
tennis, that's what it's all about."
Bouchard says that being reunited with
former coach Nick Saviano, the man who guided her to her successes of 2014, has
helped reboot her confidence on the court.
"I feel now that I may be more on the
right path and working hard in the right areas. That can definitely make a
difference," she said.
"I feel more focused on the court and
having specific objectives in my mind and not worrying about anything outside
"Because when I'm on the court, that's
my job and that's the only thing I have to worry about. So I feel like I'm
better at that this year."
Bouchard will play Slovak 19th seed
Dominika Cibulkova in the third round at the All England Club.
"She's a fighter," said Bouchard,
the 2012 Wimbledon junior champion.
"Every match I have had against her is
a really tough battle, physical and mental. I have a rest day on Friday and
then I'm going to give it my all on Saturday."