Genie Bouchard crushed Elina Svitolina to win the Wimbledon junior girls' singles title nearly four years ago.
It seems the 21-year-old from Ukraine, seven months younger than Bouchard, has been bent on revenge ever since.
Svitolina's 6-7 (5), 6-4, 7-5 victory in the Malaysian Open final Sunday came moments after midnight, after nearly three hours on the court and another three hours off-court waiting out rain delays. And it came after Bouchard served for the match at 5-4 in the third set, only to be broken at love. It was the fourth consecutive time she has beaten the 22-year-old Canadian on the pro circuit.
Bouchard lost the last three games of the match; in her fourth attempt to two-peat after winning that inaugural trophy in Germany in the spring of 2014, she is 0-for-4 in finals.
It was another tough struggle, physically. During her quarter-final against Cagla Buyukakcay, Bouchard had complained of dizziness and needed to take a medical timeout. Sunday, after the second set, she was in some distress again - her blood pressure and pulse were taken again, and the trainer worked on her neck for a significant period of time.
To see Bouchard like that, in tears as she discusses her situation with the tour trainer, is always a concern.
Here she was Sunday.
And here she was last fall in Beijing, when she felt dizzy on the court during her first match back after the concussion suffered at the U.S. Open.
She was forced to retire from that match. This week, she carried on, so hopefully it's merely a result of the hot, humid conditions and not related to any post-concussion symptoms. The Canadian players, whether in Guadeloupe at Davis Cup or on the other side of the planet, are cornering the market on ice towels and ice vests this week.
Svitolina's record in finals is far more lustrous than that of Bouchard but she, too, was pretty despondent after letting the first set slip away. She served for it at 5-4, and also had a mini-break lead in the tiebreak before the players left the court for a brief rain delay.
Bouchard led the second set 4-2, and looked to be on her way to a straight-sets win, before losing four straight games. She was attended to by the training staff after that second set, as the rain began coming down.
Still, the match was on her racquet. But she was broken at love when she tried to serve out the match. A pair of airmailed forehands and another from the backhand, and it was lost. She had a break point to earn the right to serve it out again but despite the slowball second serves coming from Svitolina, was unable to convert. Svitolina guessed right on an approach shot, guessed right on a smash, and put Bouchard in position to butcher a forehand volley to let the break point slip away.
After that, the racquet bore the brunt of a vicious toss. A ball boy was crossing the court at the same time; Bouchard was lucky it didn't actually hit him because if the chair umpire did her job, she might have been in serious trouble.
Serving to stay in the match, Bouchard offered up two more wild forehands and a wild backhand to give Svitolina all the help she needed.
All in all, Bouchard's week in Malaysia was a productive one. In her first four matches before the final, she lost serve only twice. She won just 12 matches all of last season – seven of them at the Australian Open and U.S. Opens.
This year, the Canadian already has 14 wins. Even if most of them are at smaller events, wins are wins.
She's doing what she needs to do to make her way back up the rankings, and this week helped in that cause. Bouchard was ranked No. 52 coming in; she should jump 10 spots on Monday (a victory Sunday would have been worth another five spots).
With her fourth career WTA Tour title, Svitolina will move up to a career high of No. 14.
Bouchard managed to smile during the trophy ceremony, but even while she was waiting for it, she still had an ice towel around her neck. We'll see how she recovers for the big event at Indian Wells, which begins late this week.