Bouchard reaching for next level in Australia

Bouchard reaching for next level in Australia

Eugenie Bouchard admits change can be “scary”, but also believes splitting from her long-time coach was necessary to build on her brilliant performances in 2014.

Bouchard reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open and French Open before making her first grand slam final at Wimbledon, where she lost to Petra Kvitova.

The 20-year-old Canadian was unsurprisingly voted the WTA’s most improved player after climbing from 32nd in the rankings to seventh, but opted to stop working with coach Nick Saviano in the off-season. The pair had worked together since Bouchard was 12.

“It was definitely a different off-season for me. I made a lot of changes,” admitted Bouchard, who is currently working with Diego Ayala as she seeks a coach to take her to the ’next level’.

“I kind of wanted to wait till the end of the year to do that when we have a few months off. I think it was better to not do it in the middle of the season.

“Change can be scary, but change can also be good. It’s just about adapting now, I think slowly putting the pieces in the right place. I’m feeling good.”

Bouchard reached the semi-finals in Melbourne 12 months ago in just her fourth grand slam, losing to eventual winner Li Na in straight sets.

But while that came out of the blue, her subsequent performances at Roland Garros and the All England Club ensured that the seventh seed will be expected to reproduce that form in 2015.

“I try to see it as just a new year,” added Bouchard, who takes on Germany’s Anna-Lena Friedsam on Monday evening. “I’m not concerned about defending points from last year. To me it’s 2015. I start at zero and try to do as well as I can.

“My past results don’t mean anything when I’m going to walk out on the court tomorrow. I still have to fight and try to play as well as I can. I have great memories from last year, but it doesn’t really mean anything to me this year.

“This was a great tournament for me last year. It kind of started a great year for me. I think I gained so much more experience after that as well, more big matches, more high-pressure situations. But it’s great to be back. I just have memories flooding in all the time, any court I practice on, the locker room, this press room. It’s great memories from last year.”

Second seed Maria Sharapova is also in action on the opening day against Croatia’s Petra Martic, with third seed Simona Halep up against Italy’s Karin Knapp.

Halep opens proceedings on Rod Laver Arena and will be followed on court by fifth seed Ana Ivanovic, who takes on Lucie Hradecka.

Top seed Serena Williams and Wimbledon champion Kvitova must wait until Tuesday to play their first round matches, with Kvitova keen to make amends for losing at the same stage 12 months ago.

“I would like to forget about last year. Unfortunately it’s impossible,” Kvitova said. “On the other side I know I can do only better, so that’s the good thing.

“I’m excited to play, of course. It’s a grand slam. It’s what I love to play. I just will do everything that I can to be just better than last year because it was very disappointing. It wasn’t really a nice time for me.”

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