You could say that the supporters practically needed a road map and provisions to find Eugenie Bouchard’s outside far court for her first match at the Australian Open in January.
By the end of the tournament, the throng had turned into Genie’s Army and were becoming media celebrities in their own right, doing interviews about supporting the charismatic Canadian baseliner.
“The Genie Army just created something on their own,” Bouchard said. “They’re like famous on their own now. They don’t need me anymore.”
The 20-year-old from Montreal laughed at that last statement and joked that the stuffed-animal-throwing “army” could do its own reality show.
Life has been a series of fascinating twists and turns for Bouchard, filled with new off-court opportunities starting during her impressive run to the semifinals of the Australian Open. That showing pushed her into the world’s top 20, a No. 19 ranking.
Days before the start of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, Bouchard took in the Kings-Montreal game at Staples Center with newly minted Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka and chatted with beat reporters from both hockey teams on Monday night.
She has struggled since Melbourne, losing to the likes of Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Annika Beck of Germany and Caroline Garcia of France in her last three events. At Indian Wells, Bouchard will face either wild-card entrant Vera Zvonareva of Russia or Peng Shuai of China in her opening match.
Progress on the tour is not always a straightforward path. But the vibe of mellow Indian Wells might be the best place for a course correction.
“At the beginning of Australia, I was asked about a ranking goal and I said I just want to be as high as I can,” Bouchard said. “But I said I wanted to be top 20 as soon as possible.
“I did that after one tournament. So not every tournament is going to be like that….But I want to be as good as I can as fast as I can. I don’t have a specific deadline for my goals. I want to get in the top 10. I don’t know when that will be but I want to do it.”
Bouchard excelled early on the big stage, winning Junior Wimbledon in 2012, perhaps her most treasured tennis memory. She said playing on the main show court at the Australian Open, Rod Laver Arena, so many times, gave her an infusion of confidence and experience.
“It shows me I can play on a big stage and be able to count on myself and count on my tennis to perform when it really matters,” she said.
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