LONDON — A year ago at Wimbledon, Eugenie Bouchard and Simona Halep met in a semifinal showcasing two of tennis’ up-and-coming stars.
Bouchard was only 20, Halep 22. Bouchard won that matchup to reach a Grand Slam final in the sixth major tournament of her career, a month after Halep was the runner-up at the French Open.
Back at the All England Club on Tuesday, both women lost in the first round to opponents ranked outside the top 100. For Bouchard, also a semifinalist at the Australian Open and French Open in 2014, it was the latest setback in a season full of them, including 12 losses in her past 14 matches.
“It’s been a huge learning process to have great results and then have, you know, so much attention, then have bad results. Just learning about the ups and downs of life and tennis, how things won’t always go perfectly, like I expect them to,” Bouchard said. She added that a torn abdominal muscle limited her practice time leading into the match
“I’m always trying to keep the belief and stay true to myself and do what I need to do to become as good as I know I can be. So it’s really just been kind of eye-opening, a learning experience,” she added, resting her chin on her right hand, then added with a laugh: “But I’m good for the learning experience to be over now.”
Her 7-6 (3), 6-4 exit against 117th-ranked qualifier Duan Ying-Ying of China made the 12th-seeded Bouchard the first Wimbledon finalist to lose her opening match at the grass-court Grand Slam tournament the following year since Steffi Graf in 1994.
The No. 3-seeded Halep was treated by a trainer for a lost toenail late in the first set of what would become a 5-7, 6-4, 6-3 defeat against 106th-ranked Jana Cepelova of Slovakia.
“I knew it would be a difficult tournament for me,” Halep said, explaining that her confidence was low because of poor recent results. “But I didn’t expect to lose in (the) first round.”
Thumbnail photo via Susan Mullane/USA TODAY Sports Images
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