A familiar face will be in tennis star Eugenie Bouchard's corner this week - longtime coach Nick Saviano

Stephanie Myles
Saviano was by Bouchard's side during her rise to prominence in 2014. Will he be there again for her return? (Stephanie Myles/opencourt.ca)

CHARLESTON, SC – Genie Bouchard was scheduled to hit Charleston this week for the Volvo Car Open with just hitting partner Cyril Saulnier, and without coach Thomas Hogstedt.

But Eh Game has learned that the 22-year-old Canadian won’t be coachless this week after all. 

And the coach will be someone familiar both to Bouchard, and to the fans who watched her break through into the top of the women’s game in 2014.

It will be deja vu, all over again.

Nick Saviano, who had worked on and off with Bouchard since she was 12 and who was by her side during the best moments of her still-nascent career, will be here with her this week.

A year ago in Charleston, Bouchard suffered an ignominious first-round loss to diminutive American Lauren Davis. It’s a tournament where the Montreal native had enjoyed great success the other two times she participated: from the qualifying to the quarter-finals in 2013 and all the way to the semis in 2014, where she had the match well in hand before running out of gas and losing to eventual champion Andrea Petkovic of Germany.

Whether this is a permanent move, and that Hogstedt is gone after just a few months, is unknown. But it’s certainly a blockbuster piece of news.

The relationship between Bouchard and Saviano did not end on especially good terms at the end of the 2014 season, when Saviano reportedly ended the collaboration. 

Unlike many coaches at the top level, Saviano can afford to walk away if he’s not happy with the situation. His Florida academy is a very successful one. He also doesn’t like to travel. Saviano worked with Sloane Stephens in 2015 and this season, spent a few weeks working with Laura Robson and her coach, as the Brit tries to come back from wrist surgery. He also has worked with Samantha Crawford; Saviano was at Indian Wells a few weeks ago with the hard-hitting young American.

Both Bouchard (who will be doing a promotional event with American Madison Keys this afternoon) and Saviano are expected on site today.

In her last match, nearly two weeks ago now, Bouchard lost in the first round of Miami to Lucie Hradecka of the Czech Republic.

The Charleston draw was made Saturday; it’s a 56-player draw with 16 seeds and eight first-round byes.The unseeded Bouchard drew Shuai Zhang of China as her first-round opponent.

Zhang, 27, is currently ranked No. 68. It will be the first meeting between the two.The winner would play No. 12 seed Daria Gavrilova of Australia or Zarina Kiyas of Kazakhstan.

(Update: Jelena Jankovic, who was seeded, withdrew with a shoulder injury before the tournament began, so the draw was shuffled. Bouchard is now the No. 17 seed, and will play Alexandra Dulgheru in the first round).