Forgotten tennis star Eugenie Bouchard admits a growing legion of “haters” have helped fuel her desire for a successful 2017 campaign, beginning with a winning Australian summer.
Bouchard ended a run of three straight first-round exits with a hard-fought 7-6 (6-1) 6-2 upset of world No.23 Shuai Zhang in her opener at the Sydney International on Sunday.
The former world No.5 then conceded she had grown tired of the critics who have stuck the boot in since storming onto the tour three years ago.
“I first and foremost play tennis for myself and want to achieve success and results for myself,” said Bouchard, who is now ranked No.46.
“But sometimes after getting a lot of hate, which of course I do, it is a little bit motivating for sure to try and prove people wrong and try to prove to myself and everyone that I can do it.
“I can be successful. I’m on that path. It’s a long way to go, but I hope I can do that.”
The Canadian, who has yet to progress past the fourth round of a grand slam since the 2015 Australian Open , revealed she had spent much of her off-season focusing on mental strength.
And her hard work finally paid off at Sydney Olympic Park, dominating a first set tiebreaker despite allowing Zhang to come back from a 5-2 deficit.
Bouchard believes staying locked in mentally during matches is key to finding her best form.
“One thing that’s very important for me that I’m focusing on a lot is having a lot of energy during the match,” she said.
“If I lose a couple of points or a game, try not to let the momentum shift too much to my opponent and try turn it around as soon as possible without letting a couple of games go by.
“That has been problematic in past matches where I blink and a set went by and I don’t even know what happened. So really, keeping up my energy and being proactive in the point.
“When I do that, I think I play some good tennis.”
Bouchard is likely to face world No.5 Dominika Cibulkova in the second round on Tuesday, joining top seeds Angelique Kerber and Agnieszka Radwanska after their round-one byes.
Australian veteran Sam Stosur headlines the order of play on Monday, along with fellow locals Daria Gavrilova and male qualifiers Matthew Barton and Christopher O’Connell.