In January 2014, 19-year-old Eugenie Bouchard took the tour by storm when she ran rampant through the draw to reach the semi-final stage of just her fourth Grand Slam tournament. Although she would fall to eventual champion Li Na, a star was born and is now back to prove she was not a one-hit wonder down under. The Canadian darling will begin her 2015 campaign in Melbourne against Anna-Lena Friedsam, a player who beat her three years ago on the ITF circuit.
The world No. 7 is at an interesting stage of her career; she is on the verge of a breakthrough to the upper echelon, having been to the Wimbledon final in 2014, yet has been through a turbulent second half of the season, and has since parted ways with her longtime coach Nick Saviano. Given the significant changes in her camp, Bouchard will now look to get back on track with a new team backing her, which could lead to some impressive results.
World No. 98 Anna-Lena Friedsam lost her only match of the season so far when she failed to maintain her lead over Natalia Vikhlyantseva in Shenzhen. She lost the match 2-6 6-3 6-3, but will look to rebound against a player with a bulls eye on her back.
While this is technically the first time that Bouchard and Friedsam will cross paths on this sort of stage, they did meet previously at an ITF event in Maribor, where the German rallied from a set down to defeat Bouchard 3-6, 6-4, 6-3. However, it has been three years since then and much has changed in both women’s’ respective trajectories. Bouchard has shot to stardom and proved to be a future star in her own right. Following her strong start to the season, expect the Canadian to kick off her season in strong fashion.
Prediction: Eugenie Bouchard in Straight Sets