CHENNAI, India — Seventeen months is a very long time in a lifespan. It is a fair longer time within the profession span of an athlete the place fortunes change in a single day and new challengers are ready within the wings regularly. However that is how lengthy the layoff had been for Eugenie Bouchard, who was off the tour from March 2021 to August 2022 because of a shoulder harm which later required surgical procedure.
To provide you some perspective, when Bouchard performed her final event earlier than returning to the tour final month, Ons Jabeur, the present World No.2 on the Hologic WTA Tour was ranked No.30, and Carlos Alcaraz, the brand new World No.1 on the ATP Tour, was ranked No.132. Whereas some could have determined to stroll away, for the tennis-loving Bouchard, quitting was by no means an possibility, though the lengthy arduous technique of rehabilitation and coming again severely examined her persistence.
“It was a really lengthy course of, having surgical procedure and doing rehab,” the 2014 Wimbledon runner-up stated after her first-round win over Joanne Zuger in Chennai, the place she is competing on the new WTA 250 occasion within the metropolis. “I by no means needed to do something like that in my profession earlier than. Each athlete sooner or later of their profession has a foul harm and I made it to age 27 with out a surgical procedure after which I had two.
“It by no means crossed my thoughts to cease. I all the time need to cease alone phrases and I didn’t need to be compelled to cease due to an harm. Now I’m on the very starting of my journey of coming again and hopefully I’ve many extra years of this.”
Bouchard, Fruhvirtova advance to Chennai quarterfinals
The 28-year-old’s comeback has introduced her to the recent and humid metropolis of Chennai this week the place she has now received two matches to succeed in the quarterfinals. She is going to face 2020 French Open semifinalist Nadia Podoroska subsequent. Not surprisingly, Bouchard feels grateful to be on this place.
“I am happy with myself, of all of the work that it took to get right here,” Bouchard stated. “I am joyful I may present myself that I may nonetheless do it and likewise get a bit confidence from successful matches. I simply need to preserve going, one match at a time, one event at a time and revel in that journey of coming again.”
Most gamers on this southern metropolis of India have discovered the warmth and humidity difficult to take care of. After her second-round win over native wild card Karman Kaur Thandi, she advised Prakash Amritraj throughout her on-court interview that she was even sweating out of her footwear.
However dealing with troublesome circumstances and adversity isn’t one thing that the previous World No.5 is afraid of. In reality, she loves a superb problem and even signed up for the doubles draw this week with Yanina Wickmayer to get extra matches below her belt. “I do know what I signed up for after I determined to change into an expert tennis participant,” she stated. “Robust circumstances are a part of it. I like difficult myself and I like coping with adversity.”
No shock then that Bouchard is a fan of one other tennis star who was all the time up for a superb battle – the American tennis legend Jimmy Connors, somebody who she has labored with previously and now calls a buddy.
“I like Jimmy,” Bouchard stated. “I beloved him as a participant. I like how he had such a giant character and character and he was on the market. I see a bit little bit of that in myself.
“I first linked with him in 2015 and he helped me earlier than the US Open. We have been in contact ever since.”
Regardless of her time away and her slide down the rankings, Bouchard continues to be a giant draw amongst tennis followers all over the world with over 2.3 million followers on social media, who sorely missed her throughout her layoff. The Canadian admits she missed the game as effectively.
“I have never gone a 12 months with out taking part in tennis since I used to be 5 years outdated,” she stated. “It is onerous to be compelled to to not do what you like. I used to be in a position to do some cool initiatives off-court resembling commentary and different stuff. However my favorite factor is to play tennis so I’m actually joyful to be again.”
As are the hundreds of thousands of her followers, higher referred to as the GenieArmy, who shall be rooting for her as she plots her comeback by means of the worldwide tour within the coming months.