ROEHAMPTON – In the end, the second-round qualifying match against unheralded Karolina Muchova was the tricky one for Genie Bouchard.
On Thursday, with one more hurdle remaining to get to Wimbledon the hard way for the first time, she has little trouble with Colombian veteran Mariana Duque Mariño.
The 6-3, 6-2 victory came against an opponent with a heavy wrap on her upper leg, and was a comprehensive effort despite some pre-match nerves.
“I was really solid. I was a little nervous before, so I’m proud of the way I performed,” Bouchard said during a quick interview with the wimbledon.com crew on court, the only post-match media she did.
Singles draw on Friday
The 24-year-old Canadian will have to wait less than 24 hours to find out who her first-round opponent will be.
With a full 128-player draw to be made Friday morning at the All England Club, there are no byes for seeds in the first round.
So it could be another qualifier or lucky loser – or it could be world No. 1 Simona Halep, defending champion Garbiñe Muguruza or even … Serena Williams.
Bouchard had won back-to-back matches twice in 14 months: in the main draw of an International-level WTA event in Taipei in early February, and then two weeks ago in the qualifying at the tour stop in Birmingham.
This is the first time she has put together a three-match streak since she defeated Maria Sharapova and Angelique Kerber back to back at the clay-court tournament in Madrid, in May 2017.
It is the first time in more than five years the Canadian has won three qualifying matches to reach the main draw (although, to be clear, she went through several years when she didn’t have to go through qualifying because her ranking was so high).
The last time was in Acapulco in 2013. And her opponent that day – as on this day – was Duque Mariño.
It can’t have been easy.
Unlike the other three Grand Slams, Wimbledon qualifying doesn’t take place on the main site. It doesn’t make you feel as though you’re even in a Grand Slam; the atmosphere is more like a smaller ITF event in the wilderness somewhere.
The All England Club was the scene of the greatest moment of Bouchard’s tennis career so far, as she reached the Wimbledon final. With the temporary – and bumpy – grass courts set up at the Bank of England Sport Ground, with the gym in a tent and the locker rooms a loooooong walk away through the crowd, it was back to basics.
And there certainly was the risk that Bouchard could lose in the qualifying, as there were a number of quality players in the field. And the base level on the women’s tour is high enough that almost anyone in the draw, on a top day, could have defeated her.
But Bouchard fought through it, and made it.
If the club’s decision not to fulfill her request for a wild card stung a little, she was in good company there. Fellow former finalists Vera Zvonareva and Sabine Lisicki also played the qualifying this year, with Zvonareva getting through.
But in the big picture, the positive result may prove to be of more benefit than a direct slot in the draw.
“It’s interesting. I feel like I earned it more, than having just been in by ranking. I’m proud of it,” she said. “And I got matches this week. That’s what I’ve wanted. I haven’t played a lot; I’ve been injured. So the goal was to play matches, and I got that.”