Belfast Telegraph

Monday 20 October 2014

Eugenie's in control

Rising star means business as she shuns a life of popularity

Eugenie Bouchard of Canada
Eugenie Bouchard of Canada

Eugenie Bouchard stands on the brink of Wimbledon glory but her "boring" lifestyle includes no time for cultivating friendships on tour and no time for Laura Robson either.

Canada's 20-year-old finalist confirmed yesterday that the days of she and Robson being "besties" – the British player's words – are over, and presented her tennis ambitions with the clinical precision of a determined businesswoman.

Bouchard might at times appear to be having fun at Wimbledon, but the reality is that she is working.

She will be doing her job today when she plays Petra Kvitova for the title on Centre Court, building brand Bouchard, having seen her one-time idol Maria Sharapova do likewise to the point where the Russian is the best-paid woman in world sport.

Bouchard referred to Robson as "my closest friend on tour for sure" at Wimbledon last year and they filmed a Gangnam Style video together that has had over half a million views on YouTube.

But their relationship could hardly be any more different 12 months on.

Asked whether they remained good friends, Bouchard said: "No, I don't think so." The fracturing of their friendship may have centred on a tug-of-war over coach Nick Saviano, whom Robson appointed as her coach last autumn at a time when he was working with Bouchard.

It appeared they would share Saviano as their coach, but Robson ended the arrangement in March when she signed up Colombian Mauricio Hadad.

Bouchard was not willing to offer any more detail.

"I'm sure you guys can figure out that one," she said, somewhat tersely.

Only last month at the French Open, Bouchard said: "I don't think the tennis tour is the place to have friends."

Kvitova strongly disagrees, saying: "Of course I think it is possible. I have many friends on the tour. So I'm not really against that.

"We are colleagues in the same sport. I'm glad that I have friends here."

But it appears Kvitova is another, just like Sharapova, that Bouchard is not interested in bringing into her close circle.

"I don't know her," Kvitova said. "I just know how she's playing, and that's it. We don't really talk to each other."

Bouchard has exhibited extraordinary drive to reach the top, and the 2012 Wimbledon girls' singles winner spoke repeatedly of "work", her "job" and the "focus" that has carried her through to a first career Grand Slam final.

Repeating a mantra that has been consistent throughout her campaign, Bouchard said: "I'm proud of what I accomplished, but the job is not over."

Her fame and fortune is growing rapidly, but Bouchard said: "First and foremost I focus on the tennis. Whatever comes with it, I take in my stride. I know it's part of the job. I appreciate everything that comes with it.

"But I know if I don't perform on the court then there's not much off court. So I really try to focus on my job, because at the end of the day I'm a tennis player.

"I go to work and I work on my tennis. As long as I do that, you know, I'll take anything that comes with it."

She acknowledged a Wimbledon final was an occasion to savour, saying: "I'm just really excited to play a big match. It's my dream to play a big match like this."

But Bouchard outlined her plans to prepare as though it were any other match.

"It's really important for me to have a boring ritual," she said. "I think that's how I keep everything in check, doing the same kind of routine. It can get boring, but it helps me play my best."

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