Bouchard playing beyond her years

PARIS -- Eugenie Bouchard is so focused on the French Open that she says she has no plans for any Paris sightseeing with her best friends on the pro tour. For that matter, she is so focused on her game that she says she doesn't really have any friends on the tour, best or otherwise.

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Eugenie Bouchard has catapulted up the rankings in the past season.

"I don't think the tennis tour is the place to have friends,'' she said after routing Angelique Kerber 6-1, 6-2 on Sunday morning to reach the French quarterfinals. "For me it's all competition. And I think it's important to just remember that we're going to play against each other in matches. It's not like we're teammates. To me, it's kind of more competitive.''

Bouchard, however, did take the time here to pose for a photo with Owen Wilson when he visited Roland Garros this weekend. Wilson was terrific in the Woody Allen comedy "Midnight in Paris,'' which Bouchard said she hasn't seen but planned to do so when she returned to her hotel. "I will give you a summary next time.''

If you can't wait that long, "Midnight in Paris'' is about a writer (Wilson) who is somehow able to repeatedly time-travel to the 1920s Paris he adores and meet with luminaries including Ernest Hemingway, Picasso, F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald and Cole Porter. It's a fitting movie for Bouchard to see for two reasons: One, she is in Paris. Two, she is among the rising younger players who could take women's tennis back to the era when teens and early-twentysomethings dominated the game.

Bouchard turned 20 in February but has risen dramatically in the past year, moving into the top 100 last year and all the way to No. 16 this year. She was named WTA newcomer of the year for 2013.

Not that she considers herself young at all.

"I feel very old I think; I'm starting to get wrinkles on my face,'' she said. "Do I have some? Yes? OK, so I just turned 20 three months ago and I feel old. So I want to be the best player I can be as quickly as possible, because one day I will wake up and I will be 30.''

Well, 30 is a good age.


The way Bouchard is playing now, she could have several Grand Slam titles by the time she is a doddering old woman using a walker at age 30. Coming off a win in Nuremberg two weeks ago, she has won nine consecutive matches. She showed off her game against the higher-ranked Kerber (No. 9) Sunday, moving quickly and easily around the court and dispatching the 26-year-old German player before most fans had arrived at Roland Garros. The match was so short that a reporter asked Bouchard whether she had a plane to catch.

Bouchard might be only 20, but she is also very sharp and composed. She is polished enough that she appeared a guest TV weather forecaster in her hometown of Montreal. That city's weather is not conducive to tennis, and Bouchard says training in Florida at Nick Saviano's academy has helped her considerably. At Melbourne in January, she became the first Canadian woman to reach the semis at a Slam since Carling Bassett in 1984 and would match that again if she wins her next match against the victor of the Carla Suarez Navarro-Ajla Tomljanovic match.

She said it also helped that she played on the junior tour until she was 18. You know, when she was still young.

"It was important because I played all Grand Slams in juniors and I played on big courts. I experienced pressure,'' she said. "And I think it helped me being on the court when everyone thinks you should win and winning the match. That was difficult, but it helped me be strong. So that's why I managed to play well in professionals, because I gained experience.

"Of course, the level is different with professionals, and I try and improve every day, but I'm confident at the level I should be.''

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