Genie Bouchard's withdrawal from next week's WTA Tour event in Washington, D.C. originally was cited as a request to the WTA for a "medical withdrawal," with no specific injury mentioned.
Later, the withdrawal reason was specified as a right knee injury.
Either way, Bouchard, who would have been the No. 1 seed, will not play the tournament where she first made a bit of a name for herself. It's a small "International" event for the women (for the men, who play concurrently, it's an ATP Tour 500 tournament), and Bouchard received a main draw wild card for it in both 2011 and 2012 because it is owned by the agency that represents her, Lagardère.
Because of that, and the ties to Lagardère, she sort of owes the tournament something going forward despite her rising status. The fact that she was to play there instead of at the competing event in Stanford, a Premier-level tournament that offers exponentially more prize money and ranking points and is officially part of the U.S. Open Series (with the potentially large prize-money payoff at the U.S. Open), is evidence of that. Perhaps it's not a formal obligation, but it is one just the same.
But that won't happen this year.
Here's the section on the "medical withdrawal" provision in the WTA rule book.
Bouchard may be subject to a late withdrawal fine unless she can comply with all the provisions in the WTA rule book including providing records of a doctor's visit, tests and relevant notes.
The knee injury issue does have a history; Bouchard wore some tape on it during her first-round doubles match at Wimbledon, ripped it off during her singles match against Silvia Soler-Espinosa of Spain, and said it wasn't bothering her.
The withdrawal seems to have less do with the fact that Bouchard has a worrisome injury, and likely more to do with the fact that she simply needs another week to rest up and prepare after the long, successful stretch in Europe capped off by the Wimbledon singles final.
The summer hard-court season begins with a bang for Bouchard the way it does for no other player. Had she gone deep in D.C. – there's no reason to think she wouldn't; it's not a particularly strong field – she would have had to jump right back into the cauldron five minutes later at the Premier-level event in her hometown of Montreal, the Rogers Cup.
And that would be after a week in D.C. that typically offers hot, sticky weather that's a physical challenge of its own.
Bouchard is in Florida training with coach Nick Saviano at his academy. And in the wake of the withdrawal, she probably let the cat out of the bag a little bit when she posted this Tweet on Friday.
Oopsie. Pretty tape-free.
Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova may be in Montreal. (In the case of Williams and the Canadian tournament, particularly when it's in Montreal, we always believe it when we see it and so does the tournament, which does not feature Williams on its promotional posters). But the biggest star of the week will unquestionably be Bouchard, who returns as one of the top eight seeds in the event and will be by far the one with the biggest spotlight shining on her. She also will be the one with by far the most off-court obligations to deal with – in two languages.
Immediately afterwards, comes another Premier-level tournament in Cincinnati.
The downside of not playing a tournament before Montreal is that Bouchard's first hard-court match since the winter will come in the second round; as one of the top eight seeds, she will get a first-round bye. Given the strength of the field, she could easily face a top-20 type player in her first match. So it's a risk.
But if she's not up to getting back on the horse just yet after a heady month in the Slams, clearly she and those around her feel it's a risk worth taking.
In the interim, there has been no lack of exposure for the growing Bouchard brand.
She's the cover girl in the August edition of Elle Québec, a fashion magazine on newsstands now. And her smiling face as she holds a bottle of Diet Coke is beginning to show up around town.
It's just the beginning.
(As an aside, Karlovic had a solid riposte to Bouchard's tweaking Tweet).