Evgeniya Rodina ends Eugenie Bouchard hopes in US Open first round
Evgeniya Rodina v Eugenie Bouchard 7-6 6-1

Evgeniya Rodina ends Eugenie Bouchard hopes in US Open first round

30/08/2017

Canada's Eugenie Bouchard has suffered a 7-6 6-1 defeat to Russia's Evgeniya Rodina in the US Open first round at Flushing Meadows.

Rodina beat 2014 Wimbledon runner-up Bouchard at Arthur Ashe Stadium and will face fourth seed Elina Svitolina in round two.

Bouchard was back on centre court on Wednesday, the United States Tennis Association saying it held no grudges against the Canadian who is suing the organisation for negligence over injuries suffered in a locker-room fall.

Usually the marquee matchups of the day are reserved for Arthur Ashe Stadium and a contest between two players barely ranked inside the top 100 seemed an unconventional choice - even more so given the lawsuit now before the courts.

"I was surprised," admitted the 76th-ranked Bouchard following a 7-6(2) 6-1 thrashing by 89th-ranked Rodina. "But it's always an amazing opportunity to play on the biggest tennis court in the world."

There was a time not long ago when an appearance on Arthur Ashe by the 23-year-old would have been met with excitement rather than raised eyebrows.

Ranked as high as world number five, Bouchard was hailed as the next big thing in women’s tennis in 2014 when she reached the Wimbledon final and the semi-finals at the Australian Open and Roland Garros.

But now Bouchard, winner of just two matches since the French Open, needs wildcards to gain direct entry to the WTA's top events, making her clash with Rodina, winless since early June, an odd choice to open day three at Flushing Meadows.

On a sunny morning the once raucous Genie's Army was nowhere to be seen with only a small crowd sprinkled across the cavernous venue while the sprawling grounds were buzzing with world number four Elina Svitolina, Australian bad boy Nick Kyrgios and other seeds all in action.

"Specifically, with Bouchard we are comfortable with our decision of putting her on Ashe, there are a lot of matches to schedule today, things could have gone many different ways," USTA spokesman Chris Widmaier told Reuters.

"I think she still is popular. She does seem to be a fan favourite."

The USTA and Bouchard have settled into an uneasy relationship with the Canadian's lawsuit hanging over the U.S. Open.

Bouchard's attorneys in May accused the USTA of erasing security camera footage of her fall in the locker-room at the 2015 U.S. Open, which resulted in a concussion.

Her lawyers said the accident was caused by a cleaning substance and the injury forced her out of the 2015 U.S. Open and subsequent tournaments.

"Certainly we don't hold any grudges," Widmaier said. "What happens outside this tournament is irrelevant to us as we build the schedule."

Given their current strained truce Bouchard's return to Arthur Ashe did little to spark memories of better days.

"We're still in the process," she said. "I’m able to concentrate on the tennis when I'm here but I definitely have bad memories from here two years ago."

Kristina Mladenovic was tipped as a French Open favourite three months ago but after a fall at Wimbledon the Frenchwoman has experienced a painful form slump that resulted in a first-round exit at the US Open on Wednesday.

Mladenovic, who reached the quarter-finals in Paris on the back of an impressive claycourt campaign, suffered a knee injury at the All England Club.

Things went from bad to worse for the hard-hitting Mladenovic, who appeared toothless in three consecutive first-round defeats at U.S. Open warm-up tournaments.

"There are highs and lows in a season. I had a complicated Wimbledon where I pulled a ligament in my right knee," said 14th seed Mladenovic, who lost 6-3 6-2 to Romanian Monica Nicolescu on Wednesday.

"I needed a rest after that fall but then it was not easy to come back to form for the American tournaments.

"It's frustrating, but it's part of an athlete's life ... it's a process."

Mladenovic, who showed signs of frustration on court, refused to blame her fall.

"Wimbledon is in the past, it's not why I lost today," the 24-year-old said. "Physically, I'm in good shape, but it was not enough. I would have needed a round or two to get things started again."

Mladenovic is confident she will soon get back to her best level as she has shaken off her injury and she will not change her schedule.

"I was really bad in the previous weeks, sometimes I was not comfortable on court. Even if it was not enough today, I have been better," she said.

Romania's Monica Niculescu beat France's Kristina Mladenovic 6-3 6-2 in the first round. American Jennifer Brady advanced to the second round after beating Germany's Andrea Petkovic 6-4 3-6 6-1 and her compatriot Nicole Gibbs defeating Veronica Cepede Royg of Paraguay 6-0 1-6 6-1.

American CoCo Vandeweghe came back from a set down to claim a 2-6 6-3 6-4 first-round victory over compatriot Alison Riske.

Vandeweghe, coached by 1987 Wimbledon champion Pat Cash, fired 31 winners to book a second-round meeting with Tunisia's Ons Jabeur.

Eighth-seeded Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova saved three match points before securing a 4-6 6-4 7-6(2) first-round victory over Czech Republic's Marketa Vondrousova.

Elsewhere, 13th seed Petra Kvitova advanced to the third round after beating Alize Cornet 6-1 6-2.

And Ekaterina Makarova closed out a marathon day with a surprise triumph over fifth seed Caroline Wozniacki as the Russian registered a first win in eight meetings against the former world number one and a place in the third round.

After rain washed out most of Tuesday's play, there was a bumper schedule at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center as officials raced to get back on track and the 40th-ranked Makarova brought the curtain down with 6-2 6-7(5) 6-1 win.

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