Eugenie Bouchard was calm, and organised when it mattered, as she beat home favourite Karman Thandi 6-2, 7-6(2) to enter the quarterfinals of the WTA Chennai Open, at the SDAT Tennis Stadium here on Wednesday.
Bouchard played a solid first set, wobbled for much of the second even as Karman lifted her game, before reorganising her technique while visibly tiring and “sweating through her shoes,” to get past the finish line.
Bouchard’s start was smart and clean, with the right amount of weight, depth and power on her shots. Karman didn’t hold the cards close to her chest, trying to run around backhands and telling which was her favoured wing.
Bouchard was on to it in a flash, pounding the Karman backhand to go 4-0. With too much pressure on the forehand, Karman went for the outrageous often. The percentages caught up and errors flew from the forehand side as well.
Karman’s height advantage meant that she could land a few big serves. But whenever she did, Bouchard was up to the task, returning everything in sight. The Canadian served out the set 6-3, with the last point a vicious kick-served ace.
Karman took a toilet break, refreshed and emerged with new clothing. Bouchard shadow-practised on court, perhaps to avoid a disruption to her rhythm. But a certain wobbliness did creep in, as she fell behind in each of her first three service games, before being broken off the last, courtesy two botched forehands.
The Indian’s serve was equally shaky but she did admirably to drag herself out of tricky positions by uncorking her fierce forehand. The hold to 5-2, was however clean, finished off by two exquisite one-two punches.
With the crowd firmly in her corner – though it was also guilty at times of forgetting tennis etiquette by screaming in the middle of points – Karman was in prime position at 5-4 to level the match, but fluffed both opportunities to get broken.
The net-cord put paid to her hopes on one of those points, taking the ball out off a perfectly executed inside-out forehand.
Bouchard nonchalantly raised her level and held to 5-5 before bringing up two break-points. But Karman hung on, saving both. The match inevitably slipped into a tie-break, but once there Karman didn’t land a single first-serve and Bouchard wasn’t one to miss out.