Former world No.5 Eugenie Bouchard says she has “zero expectations” to perform at the Australian Open as she makes her comeback from injury.
After an absence of some four months the popular Canadian is back on the WTA tour and will contest the Hobart International in preparation for the Melbourne grand slam later this month.
Fresh from China’s Shenzhen Open where she made the quarter-finals in her return to competition, Bouchard said she’s grateful to be back on court but realises there’s a long road ahead.
“A month or two ago I wasn’t even sure I could play the Australian Open so I’m just so happy to be in Australia, looking forward to playing these two tournaments (with) zero expectations,” the 21-year-old told reporters in Hobart on Sunday.
After slipping on the tiled floor of a therapy room during September’s US Open, Bouchard suffered concussion and withdrew from subsequent events as she continued to experience dizziness.
It’s an incident for which she is suing the United States Tennis Association, but in terms of injury, Bouchard said she is back on track.
“I’m feeling good.
“I didn’t want to play if I wasn’t somewhat prepared so I worked really hard in the off season to try and catch up a bit.”
And the Shenzhen Open has helped.
“It was somewhat mental and physical, for sure,” she said of the tournament.
“To step on the court and play a full match with no pain, play three matches three days in a row, was a success for me even though I lost the last match.”
Bouchard’s straight-sets loss to unseeded Hungarian Timea Babos ended her campaign.
“I just feel like I still have a bit of that match rustiness, not quite that sharpness where I had maybe at the end of the year when I play a lot,” the now-world No.49 said.
“It’s just about getting that back, playing more matches.
“I don’t know how long that will take, it’s a long journey but I’m ready to do it.”
Bouchard said her ranking is unimportant and the focus for now is enjoying herself and staying healthy.
“I just love the feeling of playing tennis and when you’re forced not to do something you love you realise how much you truly love it.”
Bouchard will play American veteran Bethanie Mattek-Sands first up in Hobart, in a match expected to be played on Monday.
The pair have met twice before when Mattek-Sands has taken the honours.
Bouchard said her US competitor packs a big serve and forehand.
“I just want to go on the court and enjoy it, try to play as well as I can.”