Eugenie Bouchard cites top competition for 2013 success
Canadian tennis star posted 39-24 record
Eugenie Bouchard's best off-court memory in a season full of them was attending the 40-Love Party at Wimbledon.
The party celebrated the 40th anniversary of the WTA, and 17 of the former No. 1-ranked female players -- from Chris Evert to Serena Williams and almost every top player in between -- were in attendance.
It was one of those pinch-me moments for Bouchard, and said a lot about how far the rising Canadian tennis star had come.
"Moments like that are really special to me, and obviously I was just happy to be invited there," Bouchard said in a conference call Thursday from her training base in Florida.
A day earlier, the 19-year-old from Montreal was named WTA's newcomer of the year after reaching at least the quarter-finals five times in the 2013 season.
Bouchard is ranked No. 32 in the world, tops among teenagers and Canadians. She reached her first WTA final in Osaka last month before losing to Samantha Stosur.
Bouchard beat Stosur earlier in the year, her first victory over an opponent ranked in the top 10. She also beat No. 10 Jelena Jankovic as part of an impressive year.
Rise through ranks
The young Canadian can't pinpoint any one thing that led to her swift rise through the ranks this past season.
"I think it's a bunch of factors, not something specific," she said. "It's really my first full year on the pro tour, I learned a lot. Playing week in and week out against great players, and even great champions, is really tough, and it makes you mentally tough. I think that helped me improve, and gave me a lot of experience for the rest of the year, so those big matches helped me a lot."
It's an honour to be named the newcomer of the year.- Eugenie Bouchard on winning the WTA award
Bouchard earned $415,742 US in prize money in 2013 by going 39-24 in singles play and 6-8 in doubles.
Bouchard was the first Canadian to win the award since Carling Bassett in 1983.
"To be the second Canadian only is a cool thing I think, and obviously it's a great award and it's an honour to be named the newcomer of the year. So I'm proud of that," said Bouchard.
While she raced more than 100 spots up the rankings this season, she knows next season is going to be a crawl. The higher she goes, the more difficult it is to move.
"And then each small move, each small jump is more significant," she said. "Strategy-wise, I have my coach [Nick Saviano] and I'm just going to train really hard in this off-season and try to improve. I don't think there's a secret recipe, just a lot of hard work will definitely go into it on the practice court and then once I'm in matches as well, really work hard and try to be the best I can be."
While Bouchard has become more comfortable as she's gained experience on the tour, she said there's no sense of "been there, done that."
"I think it's hard to have that feeling … when you walk onto the grounds at the Australian Open or any Grand Slam or any tournament for that matter," Bouchard said. "Tennis is what I love doing, so I'm never going to get bored of it, and I'm never going to feel like I'm tired of it.
"I'm saying that now, but maybe when I'm ready to retire at 30, maybe I'll have that feeling. But for now, it's what I love doing, I can't think of doing anything else, and I'm just going to go into every tournament with the same energy and motivation that I've always had and always will have."