Only once, in all of her struggles during the 2015 tennis season, did Canadian Genie Bouchard drop only three games in victory.
It was nearly a year ago in the second round of the Australian Open when she defeated Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands 6-0, 6-3 on her way to the quarter-finals.
Bouchard did just that Monday in Hobart, Tasmania, at a small tournament she is using as a final tuneup for this year's trip to Melbourne for the first Grand Slam of the season. The 6-2, 6-1 victory over American Bethanie Mattek-Sands was as one-sided as it was emphatic, helped along by Mattek-Sands having a poor day at the office but exacerbated by Bouchard swinging out on every ball – with the majority of them finding their mark.
"I didn’t feel (I was hitting it) that clean, it’s a bit windy so for both of us it was a little bit tricky, I’m happy I just stayed tough," Bouchard said in her on-court interview. "Bethanie can be really tough, she’s amazing at the net, so I had to be ready every time she came forward. Kind of hit it as hard as hard as I could and hope for the best."
Bouchard took Mattek-Sands' normally effective first serve and crushed it, basically. She was no more charitable on Mattek-Sands' second delivery. Meanwhile, other than one poor game in the first set in which she was broken, giving back one of the two service breaks she had already earned, Bouchard was untroubled on serve.
Bouchard broke Mattek-Sands six times in 10 chances, and won 60 of the 92 points played. A clean kill.
The only looming question was a radical hair change – the trademark braid was replaced by ... a pony tail.
The two had played twice in Bouchard's breakout year of 2014, both under rather particular circumstances. The first meeting was in the first round in Sydney, where Bouchard was making her official season debut after flying across Australia from Perth, where she took part in the exhibition Hopman Cup.
The second came in Doha in February, after she flew to the Middle East overnight from playing Fed Cup in Montreal. Then-coach Nick Saviano was not on hand and only a new hitting partner, a stranger, was there to greet her. That result was also rather predictable.
On Monday.the 21-year-old turned that around in a major way, and built on the positive results she had in her return to action in Shenzhen, China the previous week.
She next faces No. 8 seed Alison Van Uytvanck of Belgium, a player she practiced with the day Eh Game paid her a visit at the IMG Academy in Florida a few weeks ago.
Top seed Sloane Stephens, who won her second career title last week in Auckland, pulled out of Hobart with a viral illness.