MELBOURNE, Australia — A bad start led to the end of Eugenie Bouchard’s run at the Australian Open.
Bouchard, from Westmount, Que., was eliminated from the Grand Slam tournament on Tuesday after a 6-3, 6-2 loss to Russia’s Maria Sharapova in the quarter-finals. It was especially disappointing for Bouchard, who hoped to better her semifinal loss a year ago at Melbourne Park.
Bouchard finished with 13 winners and 30 unforced errors on Tuesday, missing on both of her break point chances while dropping serve four times.
“I felt under pressure the whole time, a bit on my back foot,” said Bouchard. “That’s not how I want to play. I feel like I didn’t start well, and it kind of all went downhill from there.
“It’s definitely easier when you have a good start to the match.”
Seventh-seeded Bouchard’s defeat in 78 minutes was her eighth at a Grand Slam and first of the season after four victories in 2015.
Bouchard dropped serve in the opening game of the high-profile quarter-final, but regained her composure, holding for 1-2 with a winning backhand return.
But Bouchard was never able to close the gap despite forcing Sharapova to save break points in the sixth game. Three games later, Bouchard saved a set point with a winner but lost the set a point later after sending a backhand wide.
“She definitely played well today and she didn’t give me many chances. I know I could have done better for sure,” said Bouchard. “I’m disappointed with not taking the few chances I got here and there. Against great players, you have to take every little chance you can get.”
Sharapova took a 3-1 lead in the second set after another misplaced backhand by Bouchard.
Sharapova earned a match point from a Bouchard forehand error and landed a winner of her own in the corner to seal the victory and advance to the tournament’s semifinal.
“I had to produce a really good performance against Genie,” said Sharapova.
“She’s been playing so confidently and aggressively.”
Three of the four matches played between Bouchard and Sharapova have come at majors, with the Russian beating Bouchard at the French Open the past two years.
Bouchard is the first Canadian — female or male — to play a Grand Slam singles final, losing to Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic at Wimbledon last year.
She will now return home and decide if she will play for Canada in the Fed Cup in early February against the visiting Czech Republic.
“I’m going to go visit the family, that’s for sure. Take some time off, rest the body a bit,” said Bouchard. “(Fed Cup) is something I was going to decide after the tournament. My tournament ended like half an hour ago, so I’m still going to talk to my team and make the best decision for me if I can play or not.”
In play Monday, Milos Raonic tied a Canadian tennis record by reaching his third career Grand Slam quarter-final with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 6-7 (7), 6-3 win over Spain’s Feliciano Lopez on Monday at the Australian Open.
Raonic, from Thornhill, Ont., joins Robert Powell as the only other Canadian man to reach the quarter-finals at three major events (1908, 1910 and 1912 Wimbledon).
Raonic made it to the Wimbledon semifinals last summer and reached the French Open quarter-finals in 2014. But he had never been past the fourth round in Melbourne.
“There was some great tennis played today and it’s only going to get better,” said Raonic after the match.
“It’s an exciting time for Canadian tennis,” he added. “It’s great to see a lot of red and white at these matches. It’s a pleasure to play.”
The eighth seed will next face top-seeded Novak Djokovic of Serbia, who posted a 6-4, 7-5, 7-5 win over Gilles Muller of Luxembourg.
Raonic is the first Canadian man to make the quarter-finals in Melbourne since Michael Belkin did it back in 1968.
“It’s great to be doing what I’m doing and that it is making a difference,” Raonic said. “It is, I guess, part of some history, if you look really deep.
“But at the end of the day, I’m always pushing myself for what I want to achieve. I’m always looking in the mirror and saying, ’That’s who I have to compare myself to — to myself.”
In women’s play, seventh seed Eugenie Bouchard of Westmount, Que., will play a Tuesday quarter-final against five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova of Russia.
Raonic needed to go five sets and more than three hours to beat Lopez, breaking for 5-3 in the final set and hammering home huge serves — including three aces in the final game — before an errant return from the Spaniard sealed the win.
The 24-year-old Raonic finished with three breaks and 30 aces in a victory that also featured a massive 81 winners.
“I’m happy with the attitude that got me through. I stayed calm even though things weren’t always panning out how I would have liked,” he said. “I missed a lot of break-point opportunities, but overall I can’t complain too much. I fought my way through.”
Raonic improved his career record against Lopez to 2-2. He lost to the 14th-ranked Spaniard last summer in a Rogers Cup quarter-final in Toronto.