With chance to be Centre of attention, Canadian teenager Bouchard beats Ivanovic at Wimbledon

  • Article by: HOWARD FENDRICH , AP Tennis Writer
  • Updated: June 26, 2013 - 11:45 PM

LONDON — About 20 minutes before playing only her fourth Grand Slam match, against a woman who won a major championship and was ranked No. 1, 19-year-old Eugenie Bouchard got a bit of news.

Instead of Wimbledon's 1,089-seat, out-of-the-way Court 12, the Canadian would be facing Ana Ivanovic at Centre Court, with room for nearly 15,000 spectators. Cause for concern? Nerves? Nah.

"I was really excited. It was kind of a big deal to me. ... It's what everyone wants to do. So, yeah, it was a great opportunity for me," the 66th-ranked Bouchard said. "I definitely was calm and felt like I could do this. It worked out."

Most certainly did. Bouchard picked up the biggest victory of her nascent career Wednesday, beating the 12th-seeded Ivanovic 6-3, 6-3 to reach the third round at the All England Club.

"It's a long way from when she was 5 years old and she started in the juniors at the local club. To me, Centre Court at Wimbledon is the temple of tennis so it was a little surreal seeing her walk out there," said Bouchard's mother, Julie. "I think she was calmer than I was. I was dying inside. I was like, 'How can she even walk out there?' But she's been planning and working toward this for 14 years. So I'm obviously very proud."

She attended her daughter's news conference, as did Bouchard's twin sister, Beatrice, and 14-year-old brother, William.

Heady stuff for Bouchard, who won the 2012 Wimbledon girls' title at the All England Club, which gave her an opportunity to set foot in the Royal Box at Centre Court. But this time she actually was on the grass.

"It was just really cool," Bouchard said, "being in front of those people."

When a reporter noted that the fans at Wimbledon tend to be more muted than at some other tennis venues, Bouchard smiled and replied: "Well, yeah. We're at Wimbledon. It's classy here."

This is her second Grand Slam tournament; she lost to Maria Sharapova in the second round at the French Open last month.

That match was in the main stadium at Roland Garros, which Bouchard said helped her deal with the unusual circumstances Wednesday. She and 2008 French Open champion Ivanovic got late notice to head to Centre Court because second-seeded Victoria Azarenka pulled out of what was supposed to the day's opening match there.

Thanks to her experience in Paris, Bouchard said, "I was like, 'I've done this before. No big deal.'"

In eight previous Wimbledon appearances, Ivanovic only once had failed to reach the third round. But Bouchard took 12 of 13 points in one stretch to claim the first set Wednesday and go up a break in the second.

"Was the first time I actually I saw her play, so it was obviously a little bit tough to get used to. She was tracking the ball really well," Ivanovic said. "Eugenie is playing really well. She's young. She has great potential."

There were some blips along the way, though, including when Ivanovic broke to pull even at 2-all.

"I stayed relaxed," Bouchard said. "I had broken her a few times, so I knew I could do it again."

Indeed, Bouchard broke right back, then again to go ahead 5-2, before failing to serve out the victory.

Using deep returns to keep Ivanovic off-balance, Bouchard ended the match by breaking serve for the fifth time.

"I believed I belonged there," Bouchard said, "and believed I could play with her."

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