Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard beats France’s Garcia to reach quarterfinals

AUCKLAND, New Zealand — Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard has reached the quarterfinals at the season-opening ASB Classic for the second year in a row.

Bouchard, ranked 262nd in the world after a 2019 season in which she tumbled down the rankings, downed No. 8 seed Caroline Garcia of France 6-4, 6-4 on Tuesday.

The 25-year-old Bouchard, from Westmount, Que., needed an hour 28 minutes to get by the world No. 46.

“I had no expectations (before the tournament),” said Bouchard, who reached her career-high No. 5 ranking in 2014.

“I kind of want to continue having no expectations result-wise. I have expectations on myself, my actions and what I try to do on the court. But my ranking’s dropped and I try to see it as I’m rebuilding and in a way have no pressure. I just want to leave it all out there and go for it.

Bouchard, who lost 12 straight first-round matches at one point last year, will face No. 3 seed Amanda Anisimova of the United States in the quarterfinals.

Along with reaching the singles quarterfinals in Auckland last year, Bouchard also captured the ASB Classic doubles title with American Sofia Kenin.

“It’s special. Auckland has always been good to me,” said Bouchard, who got a wild-card entry into this year’s tournament. “I’m happy to be here. Just grateful I have another day alive, another match to play.”

Bouchard converted on three of 11 break-point opportunities against Garcia and saved four of five break points while serving.

The Canadian won 72.5 per cent of her points on first serve, giving her the edge on Garcia (61.7 per cent).

Bouchard opened the season Monday with 7-5, 7-5 win over Belgium’s Kirsten Flipkens in the first round.

It was Bouchard’s first victory above a 125K event (the lowest level on the WTA Tour) since last February in Dubai.

Meanwhile, Serena Williams and Caroline Wozniacki prolonged their one-time-only doubles partnership Wednesday when they advanced to the semifinals.

Playing together for the first time in their careers, Williams and Wozniacki beat top-seeded Johanna Larsson and Caroline Dolehide 6-2, 6-1.

The pair will not play together at the Australian Open, which will be Wozniacki’s final Grand Slam tournament before retirement. So the Auckland tournament offers the only chance for fans to savour the sight of two former No. 1 players playing as a partnership.

The match against Larsson and Dolehide, both accomplished doubles players, was the toughest test of their partnership. Larsson has 13 doubles titles and Dolehide has been a U.S. Open doubles semifinalist.

Williams was a driving force in their win Wednesday, dominating the court, though she paid tribute to Wozniacki who “never missed.”

“We’re just having a great time,” Wozniacki said. “Even if I miss a couple and I’m mad at myself, Serena is always so positive. She’s like, ‘You’re doing great. You’re doing amazing,’ so it makes you feel good out there.

“We’re just going to go out there every match, just play, have fun and see what happens and the good thing is with doubles is we’ve had two matches and we’re in the semifinals.”

Wozniacki will play Lauren Davis in the second round of singles on Thursday while Williams will play Christina McHale.

No. 15 Petra Martic, seeded second, lost 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 to Alize Cornet, who finished 2019 outside the top 50 for the first time in eight years. Cornet sealed the match with three consecutive aces.

“It just happened to be the best time to do my first aces of the match and three in a row, come on!” Cornet said. “I don’t even know how that happened.”

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