Genie Swings For An Ace, Raonic Bets On Strong Year

In 2014, Eugenie Bouchard and Milos Raonic put Canadian tennis on the world map.  Both players reached the semifinals at Grand Slam competitions, and played in the Tour Finals of their respective competitions – Bouchard even played in the finals at Wimbledon, but fell to Petra Kvitova.

Expectations are high on both Canadian stars for the 2015 tennis seasons, but if Genie’s first match is any guide, they will need to tighten up their games as the season rolls on.  Canada’s darling of tennis faced off with the world number one, Serena Williams at the Hopman Cup in a rematch of their match at the WTA Finals in October.

Back then, Williams took control of the game by exercising her powerful arms, forcing Bouchard onto the defensive.  But this time around, Genie took command, helped by a clearly offbeat Williams.  Bouchard won her first match against Williams in straight sets 6-2, 6-1, though the Hopman Cup, considered an exhibition tournament, will not go on her official match record.

The win only took 50 minutes, and on the record or not, Bouchard was all smiles when she gave her post match scrum with the press.

“I know she didn't play her best.  I'm happy I just stayed with it and held my nerve.  It's a good way to start the year.  It gives me some confidence.”

As the match stretched on, the aggressiveness that helped make Genie 6th on the WTA rankings was back in play.  Serves were much cleaner, strikes were much stronger, and she even took advantage of the groundstroke to line up a few winning games.  Genie’s teammate, Vasek Pospisil – the next Canadian superstar, sealed the deal by beating John Isner to seal the victory for Canada.

As for Raonic, he plays his first tournament of the season at the Brisbane International in Australia.  As one of the top four bets to win the tournament, Raonic earned a bye into the second round, and will play his first match against Mikhail Kukushkin from Russia. 

Kukushkin won his first match 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, proving he wants to begin the season on a strong note.  But Raonic is confident that he is in winning form, and prepared to go the distance this season.

“We spent a lot of time focusing especially on the first shots, make sure I return better, and that I serve better in this year.”