Eugenie Bouchard stands on the brink of Wimbledon glory, but her “boring” lifestyle precludes time for cultivating friendships on tour.
Canada’s 20-year-old finalist confirmed yesterday that the days of she and British player Laura Robson being “besties” – the British player’s words – are over, and presented her tennis ambitions with the clinical precision of a determined businesswoman.
Bouchard might at times appear to be having fun at Wimbledon, but the reality is that she is working. She will be doing her job today when she plays Petra Kvitova for the title on Centre Court, building brand Bouchard, having seen her one-time idol Maria Sharapova do likewise to the point where the Russian is the best-paid woman in world sport.
Bouchard referred to Robson as “my closest friend on tour for sure” at Wimbledon last year and they filmed a Gangnam Style video together that has had over half a million views on YouTube.
But their relationship could hardly be any more different 12 months on.
Asked yesterday whether they remained good friends, Bouchard said: “No, I don’t think so.”
The fracturing of their friendship may have centred on a tug-of-war over coach Nick Saviano, whom Robson appointed as her coach last autumn at a time when he was working with Bouchard.
It appeared they would share Saviano as their coach, but Robson ended the arrangement in March when she signed up Colombian Mauricio Hadad.
Bouchard was not willing to offer any more detail.
“I’m sure you guys can figure out that one,” she said, somewhat tersely. Asked for a clue, she added: “I’ll leave it at that.”
Only last month at the French Open, Bouchard said: “I don’t think the tennis tour is the place to have friends.”
Kvitova strongly disagrees, saying: “Of course I think it is possible. I have many friends on the tour. So I’m not really against that. We are colleagues in the same sport. I’m glad that I have friends here.”
But it appears Kvitova is another, just like Sharapova, that Bouchard is not interested in bringing into her close circle.
“I don’t know her,” Kvitova said. “I just know how she’s playing, and that’s it. We don’t really talk to each other.”
Bouchard has exhibited extraordinary drive to reach the top, and the 2012 Wimbledon girls’ singles winner spoke repeatedly of “work”, her “job” and the “focus” that has carried her through to a first career grand slam final.
Repeating a mantra that has been consistent throughout her campaign, Bouchard said: “I’m proud of what I accomplished, but the job is not over.”
Her fame and fortune is growing rapidly, but Bouchard said: “First and foremost I focus on the tennis. Whatever comes with it, I take in my stride.”
Kvitova has a Wimbledon title behind her, from three years ago, and presents a more relaxed personality than her opponent.
The Czech is braced for a difficult afternoon, knowing Bouchard has yet to drop a set in the championships.
“I think Bouchard is playing a very solid game. She’s a very good mover,” Kvitova, 24, said. “She plays from near the baseline. I think it’s very similar to my game.
“I think it’s going to be a tough battle.”