Eugenie Bouchard of Canada reacts after defeating Russian player Maria Sharapova at the Madrid Open.
Eugenie Bouchard of Canada reacts after defeating Russian player Maria Sharapova at the Madrid Open. Kiko Huesca

Bouchard wins grudge match with Sharapova

TENNIS: Eugenie Bouchard has produced a brilliant fighting display to win her grudge match against Maria Sharapova at the Madrid Open.

The pair faced each other in the second round in Spain with Bouchard winning 7-5 2-6 6-4 in a competitive and tense match.

Bouchard had called Sharapova "a cheater" before the Russian's return to competitive action in April after a 15-month doping ban and said she should be banned for life.

Speaking after the match Bouchard maintained her position on her rival and, in a cutting insight to how Sharapova is viewed on tour, the Canadian revealed she'd received plenty of support from outside her normal circles from people hoping she'd defeat the 30-year-old.

She also threw shade at the nature of the veteran's return to the court, calling it a "so-called comeback".

"I was actually quite inspired before the match because I had a lot of players coming up to me privately and wishing me good luck, players I don't normally speak to and getting a lot of texts from people in the tennis world that were just rooting for me," Bouchard said.

"I wanted to do it for myself but also for all of these people, so I really felt support.

"I still have the same opinion about Sharapova.

"It showed me that most people have my opinion, and they were just maybe scared to speak out.

"She (Sharapova) said 'well played'. I think she's been playing really well in her so-called comeback - if you want to call it that. She was playing well today, so it was tough."

Sharapova was adamant the hype surrounding the match-up didn't distract her and expected Bouchard to come out firing.

"Everything that surrounds matches like this doesn't affect me at all," she said. "I didn't expect anything different (with Bouchard's performance).

 

Eugenie Bouchard (left) shakes hands with Maria Sharapova after their match.
Eugenie Bouchard (left) shakes hands with Maria Sharapova after their match. Francisco Seco

"I think I would be worried about myself if I sat here and said I'm pretty happy with losing a tennis match, no matter who I face, no matter what round it is, whether it's the first round or final of a grand slam.

"I'm a big competitor. What you work for so many hours every single day is to be on the winning end of matches.

"Today was just not that day. Of course, I'm disappointed. That's what's going to make me a better player. That's what's going to win me more tournaments and more grand slams."

Bouchard battled back from 4-2 down to claim a topsy-turvy first set and she edged a marathon 11th game before serving it out for just her second set in five meetings with Sharapova.

However, adversity brought out the best in the five-time grand slam champion as Sharapova found the precision to match her power in the second set, reeling off four straight games from 2-2 to level at one set apiece.

Both players struggled to hold serve in the deciding set as a total of 14 break points were squandered.

However, Bouchard held her nerve when serving for the match at 5-4, defending two break points and an unfortunate let cord on her first match point.

The Canadian jumped for joy after delivering the final blow before the two exchanged a very frosty handshake at the net.

Bouchard will face top seed Angelique Kerber in the third round.

News Corp Australia

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