At the Net: Catch a Rising Star: Genie Bouchard

 

The Sports Network

Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Believe it or not, the hottest rising star on the WTA circuit actually hails from Canada.

Eugenie Bouchard enjoyed a breakthrough season last year ... but soared to even newer heights a couple weeks ago in Australia.

The WTA's "Rising Star of the Month for January," Bouchard put herself on the tennis map last year by climbing from outside the Top 100 all the way up to No. 32 in the world by the end of 2013.

And then came the 2014 Aussie Open, where Genie became just the second Canadian ever to reach a Grand Slam semifinal, which included a stunning come- from-behind quarterfinal victory over former world No. 1 star Ana Ivanovic, who had been fresh off her shocking fourth-round victory over the great Serena Williams in Melbourne.

Ivanovic, who's 0-2 lifetime against Bouchard, said the upstart Canadian is "a very aggressive player. It's sometimes very hard to read her game. There are no real patterns, like with other players. She's a great mover."

Bouchard also is known for taking the ball early and imposing a very high tempo on her opponents.

What made Bouchard's run in Melbourne all-the-more stunning was that she was coming off a first-round loss in her season-opening match in Brisbane a couple weeks earlier and appearing in only her fourth career main draw at a major tournament. Her three previous Grand Slam trips produced no better than a third-round showing (at last year's Wimbledon).

Bouchard's magical run Down Under ultimately ended when she ran into Chinese buzz saw and eventual champion Li Na.

The 19-year-old Bouchard, who will turn 20 on Feb. 25, is currently the top- ranked teenager among the women, coming in at a career-high No. 19, this after being named the WTA's 2013 Newcomer of the Year.

The 5-foot-10 Montreal native, backed by "Genie's Army," will now seek her first-ever title on the tour, having finished as a runner-up in Osaka, Japan, last year. In 2012, Genie became the first Canadian to capture a girls' Grand Slam title, which she did at Wimbledon.

Next up for Bouchard will be a little Fed Cup tennis against Serbia, as the Canadians and Serbs will do battle in a World Group II opening-round tie in Montreal.

Safe to say Genie's Army will be there.

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