Tennis Prose



Fixing Bouchard’s Game

By Scoop Malinowski

Eugenie Bouchard is a broken player and it’s time to fix the mess.

Once a top five player and a grand slam finalist, Bouchard has fallen on hard times and his now ranked outside the top 100. She has lost first round in fifteen of sixteen events and won only one WTA main draw match all year. If it’s not time for a drastic change, then maybe it’s time to retire.

But at 24 Bouchard still has her fighting spirit. She played Sara Errani yesterday at the Volvo Car Open with good intensity and desire, the problem was her game failed her. She lost 63 64.

Bouchard’s game is as one dimensional as it gets: Hit the ball as hard as she can and just keep doing it. Bash the ball repeatedly, come in when the opportunity arises and bash the volley, swing volley or overhead. It’s predictable tennis and vulnerable to a good defender with variety.

Bouchard can hit the ball hard, we all know that. But she can’t seem to mix any kind of variety or trickery into her game. Crunching the ball all match works reasonably well and it did yesterday –
until the pressure points and games came. Then Bouchard started to miss. Errani’s very good defense contributed to the misses. But Errani seemed to have a security about her that she knew, Just get one more ball back, get one more ball back and she will miss.

If only Bouchard could incorporate some change ups to her game, it could change everything for her. It would make her opponents wonder, Whoa I didn’t expect that, that was intelligent by Genie. I hope she doesn’t trick me again.

But Genie plays with no intelligence, just brute power and aggression. The problem is she’s just not good enough at it to dominate like Kvitova or Pliskova or Li Na.

I saw Danielle Collins practicing drop shots and lob winners off both wings last week before one of her matches. Bouchard needs to practice her trick shots, her secondary shots. She needs more ammunition to work with instead of just pulverizing forehands and backhands.

There’s no reason why she can’t develop feel and touch in her hands to be able to work these shots into her arsenal.

Bouchard is clearly super fit but she’s playing the wrong way. She is like a boxer who is not using any boxing skill, he’s just charging around the ring trying to punch out the opponent with knockout intentions in every punch thrown. But knockouts rarely happen like that in boxing against top competition. To knockout a top fighter, the boxer has to be smart and set up the knockout.

Bouchard has the knockout power but she’s not setting it up properly – or her coaches have never taught her how to. Or maybe she’s stubborn and wants to play tennis just the way she is.

But the time has come for change. Bouchard is a major talent. Everybody knows that. She has to change her game. She has to play differently. She has to accept and embrace new tactics, new ideas, new training drills, new ways of playing. Study videos of creative players like Su-Wei Hsieh, Marcelo Rios, Fabrice Santoro. Consult with each of them and discuss tips from them. Hire them as part time coaches if necessary.

With a new mindset and new shots to work with in her repertoire we all know Bouchard can be top 20 again or top ten.

But if she keeps playing the same ballbashing style with no deception or element of surprise, she may never win another WTA match again.

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  • Hartt · April 4, 2018 at 10:41 am

    The big news is that Novak won’t be using Stepanek as a coach any longer. He said some very nice things about Stepanek and how they will continue to be friends. There was the usual stuff about “continuously and passionately looking for new and different ways to regain winning form.”

    And one sentence at the end, in bold typeface: “The cooperation between Novak and Andre Agassi has also ended.”

    Talk about someone being at sea. And he does not even have an experienced coach to help him get through this. Signing on with Novak these days seems like a very short-term undertaking. It is impossible to figure out where his mind is at, especially in the period after he got rid of his longtime team.

  • Duke Carnoustie · April 4, 2018 at 2:44 pm

    Let’s work on fixing Djokovic first. Agassi and Stepanek are gone. This guy has major problems.

    Who will win more matches this year? Djoker or Steve Johnson. I bet on the American.

  • Duke Carnoustie · April 4, 2018 at 2:49 pm

    Meanwhile DY is the No. 14 American in thee rankings with Mack Mack and Mmoh not far behind.

    Keegan Smith dropped out of top 1,000 and fell 890 spots. That’s steep.

  • catherine · April 4, 2018 at 3:32 pm

    Djokovic and Bouchard have one thing in common – they both seem completely clueless about how to pull out of their respectively nosediving careers.

  • Scoop Malinowski · April 4, 2018 at 6:25 pm

    Hartt, and another weird twist about Djokovic is how he accepts these losses so easily, it almost looks like it’s a tank. Like he knows his game (and or his mind) is shot. The drastic downfall of Djokovic should inspire many theories and or conspiracy theories. I can’t ever remember such a great player crashing so quickly. The bigger they are the harder they fall. At least Agassi dug his way out of his deep hole. Not sure Djokovic could win on the Challenger circuit right now.

  • Chazz · April 4, 2018 at 8:55 pm

    Scoop, that was what I saw in Djoker’s last match too. He didn’t care as much as he used to. The killer instinct was nowhere to be found. The Agassi fallout is interesting. There must have been some serious friction between them when you look at Novak’s footnote of a sentence about the split and Agassi’s comments over the weekend that they often agreed to disagree. I wonder what happened.

  • Duke Carnoustie · April 5, 2018 at 12:14 am

    It’s a low-class comment by Djoker and his camp no matter whether Agassi was a clown or not. Agassi is still a great champion and should be treated with respect unless he personally injured the Djoker.

    Would Fed, Murray, Nadal issue a statement like that?

    I wouldn’t coach the guy if I was any reputable coach right now. Djoker has gone off the deep end. No one can diminish 12 Slams but he is hurting his legacy not just by sub-standard play but by an awful attitude as well.

  • Scoop Malinowski · April 5, 2018 at 8:15 am

    Chazz, I wouldn’t be shocked by anything from Djokovic now, he could end up in a brothel drugged out or rolling around 42nd Street in NYC at 4 am. He’s a mess. Hopefully someone with inside information will leak something. Most of all, hopefully Djokovic will get back on his feet and be the great champion again that he used to be.

  • catherine · April 5, 2018 at 9:29 am

    Djokovic may be listening to advice from different sources,some very close to him, resulting in clash of loyalties and confusion. That’s happened before.

  • Doug Day · April 6, 2018 at 12:39 pm

    Good coaching Scoop. Incorporate a drop shot with disguise. Some Serb section 8 had owned all baseline play with his.

  • Scoop Malinowski · April 6, 2018 at 6:17 pm

    doug, the dropper is a shot every player must have. Bouchard must develop it and also her top spin lob. Those shots added to her arsenal would open so many doors for her.

  • catherine · April 7, 2018 at 2:23 am

    Bouchard could develop the perfect dropshot and offensive lob but I wouldn’t trust her to learn when to use them in a match.

  • Scoop Malinowski · April 7, 2018 at 5:55 pm

    Catherine, are you implying Bouchard is not intelligent enough to know how to practically use a drop shot and lob in an actual match?

  • catherine · April 7, 2018 at 6:08 pm

    Well,on past results I wouldn’t bet on Genie’s ability to learn and utilise new skills on the court. But you never know – with the right coach, if he/she exists….



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