The serve – the stroke that let Eugenie Bouchard down most often during her annus horribilis in 2015 - was the major culprit Saturday in Tasmasia, as the Canadian tennis star attempted to cap off a great comeback week with her second career WTA Tour title.
The numbers were awful, the execution just as bad in a 6-1, 6-2 loss to Frenchwoman Alizé Cornet of France, a player Bouchard had beaten the two times they met in 2014.
— Hobart International (@HobartTennis) January 16, 2016
Bouchard failed to hold serve in the first set but, after a toilet break, gathered herself and won the first eight points of the second set.
After that, she didn't win another game.
After Cornet held to go up 3-2, Bouchard angrily slapped a ball into the crowd.
It didn't help.
Bouchard's first-serve percentage was a woeful 48 per cent on a windy day, including five double-faults. She won just 37 per cent of points on her first serve, 45 per cent on her second delivery. That won't get it done against anyone. It took just an hour and seven minutes.
Credit to Cornet, who returned extremely well all week. But much of it was on Bouchard's racquet and as the errors mounted, she grew increasingly frustrated.
If there were many moments during the week when Bouchard looked like the Bouchard of 2014, this was one day when she looked a little more like the Bouchard of 2015.
Her reaction after the match was over (left) spoke volumes.
If could well be that the 21-year-old was already a step ahead of herself, looking towards the first Grand Slam of the season and all that is at stake there. That's certainly not an unknown phenomenon during these final tuneup events. She could consult her friend Bernard Tomic (whose retirement Friday in the Sydney tournament caused quite a stir) about that one.
She did manage a nice smile for the trophy ceremony.
Bouchard has the most wins of anyone on the WTA Tour going into the Australian Open. That's not as noteworthy an accomplishment as it may appear, given most players didn't play two warmup events and so many withdrew or lost early. But for her, it's a significant effort given that before the season began, there was no way for her or anyone to know how things were going to go.
The Canadian gets very little time to recover before she begins her Australian Open campaign. The top half of the ladies' draw is scheduled for Monday and that includes Bouchard, who will play late in the afternoon on Show Court 2 against Aleksandra Krunic of Serbia.
Hobart is just a short flight away, so that shouldn't affect things too much.