MONTREAL, CANADA: Eugenie Bouchard hopes that she is leading Canadian tennis into a golden era in Fed Cup by BNP Paribas competition. She certainly did her part this weekend.
Bouchard secured Canada's World Group II first round tie against Serbia with a 60 63 win against Vesna Dolonc on Sunday.
The Australian Open semifinalist continued her excellent start to 2014 with her second straight sets win of the weekend; the result means that Canada advance to a World Group play-off tie in April.
Heavily favoured going into the matchup against Dolonc, Bouchard gave Canada an insurmountable 3-0 lead in the tie when she closed out the Serbian No. 1 in just 58 minutes.
"I hope the popularity of tennis gets bigger in Canada, and if I'm part of that, well that makes me happy," Bouchard said. "And I think for myself personally, I'm off to a good start this year. That doesn't guarantee anything for the rest of the year, but I hope I can keep it going for sure and build on this momentum. I have a match in Doha in less than 48 hours, so I'm going to be trying my best in that one."
The pair's only previous meeting, last year in Cincinnati, ended in a straight-forward win for Bouchard and the Canadian came out firing Sunday, wrapping up the first set against Dolonc in only 18 minutes, and losing just seven points.
"The level of her game is really high now; it's great," Dolonc said. "She made huge improvements and she's really quick and fast - fast and furious, I would say - and a great job. She has a big future."
Bouchard spent just 108 minutes on court and lost only four games while winning two straight singles rubbers. She said it was a different feeling representing her country at home.
"I'm always very happy to play for my country; I'm very patriotic so it's always fun and I'm always very motivated to play," Bouchard said, as she pointed to the Canadian flag painted on her right cheek.
Bouchard, who is ranked 19th in the world, needed only 50 minutes in a 61 60 win Saturday against Jovana Jaksic.
"Eugenie, she was fantastic," Canadian captain Sylvain Bruneau said. "Sure, if we look at her ranking and what she was able to do in Australia, some would say she'd come in here and crush her opponents, which is what she did. I wasn't expecting that; I can honestly say that. There was a lot of attention on her and I expected it would be very difficult. She has the stuff of champions."
Jaksic, who made her Fed Cup debut this weekend, teamed up with Nina Stojanovic to give Serbia a 62 36 10-8 win in doubles against Sharon Fichman and Gabriela Dabrowski.
Aleksandra Wozniak, Canada's No. 2, won a back-and-forth battle with Dolonc in the tie's opening rubber Saturday, 75 26 64. Dolonc blew a 5-1 lead in the first set, but fought back to force a third set in a struggle that lasted two hours and 31 minutes.
The Serbian No. 1, Dolonc fought gamely in the second set Sunday against Bouchard. Dolonc had three break points with an opportunity to take a 3-2 lead, but Bouchard reeled off 11 straight points on her way to a 5-2 advantage.
"We did our best to prepare and simply the Canadian team was better this weekend," Serbia captain Dejan Vranes said. "To play against Bouchard, it was very difficult, and I think this Canadian team has a great future, especially with Bouchard on the team. In my opinion she will soon be in the top 10 if she continues like this."
Eugenie Bouchard (CAN) - 09/02/2014