Eugenie Bouchard is one of the most famous faces in tennis but, in truth, she’s been a major disappointment on court in the past few years.
After bursting onto the scene in 2013, the Canadian teenager rose to world No. 5 the following year before her career took a nosedive soon after.
At 22 there’s still plenty of time for her to scale the summit of the WTA rankings once more but there are question marks over her desire to compete at the very highest level.
Here we take a look at the world No. 45 both on and off the court.
Why has she been in the news this week?
One of the most striking things about Bouchard is her fame given her relative lack of on-court success.
An easy marker of her status off court is her immense following on Twitter, where she boasts 1.09million followers.
She is some way behind the superstars of the game in the form of Roger Federer (6.66m), Rafael Nadal (12m), the Williams sisters (7.73m & 1.66m), Maria Sharapova (5.07m) Andy Murray (3.69m) and Novak Djokovic (6.95m) but finds herself more marketable than three-time Grand Slam winner Stan Wawrinka (1.03m).
Major tennis stars by Twitter following
7.73m – S. Williams
6.95m – Djokovic
6.66m – Federer
5.07m – Sharapova
3.69m – Murray
1.66m – V. Williams
1.59m – Wozniacki
1.09m – Bouchard
1.03m – Wawrinka
Perhaps a more glaring comparison is between her and the other women currently ranked in the top five in the world. Angelique Kerber, Karolina Pliskova, Simona Halep and Dominika Cibulkova all have 592,000 followers COMBINED!
With that in mind, it’s been no surprised that her recent antics off court have captured plenty of media attention.
In case you missed it, Bouchard agreed to go on a date with an NFL fan after losing a bet on Twitter.
She bridged the gap between the celebrity and the ‘regular’ man by taking John Goehrke out to a basketball game in New York.
It was a nice story and one that will apparently end with a second date for the lucky young man but Bouchard claims she’s ‘back to reality’ now.
How has she started the year on court?
It’s been an eventful 2017 in terms of media coverage but there are signs that Bouchard is returning to form.
After a disappointing start in Brisbane, Bouchard enjoyed a run to the semi-finals in Sydney, beating Cibulkova and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova before losing to Johanna Konta, before narrowly losing in the third round of the Australian Open to Coco Vandeweghe.
The American progressed to the semi-finals in Melbourne following that ground out win and the manner in which she swept Kerber and Garbine Muguruza aside showed exactly how tough an opponent Vandeweghe was.
An abdominal issue ruled her out of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships but she is expected to return for the Mexican Open next week.
What has she achieved in her career so far?
To downplay Bouchard’s achievements on court would be unfair, particularly considering her young age, but there is certainly a sense that she’s not fulfilling her potential at this moment in time.
In her best year to date, the Canadian reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open and Roland Garros, while losing to Petra Kvitova at the final of Wimbledon in 2014.
Australian Open – Semi-finals (2014)
French Open – Semi-finals (2014)
Wimbledon – Final (2014)
US Open – Round 4 (2014, 2015)
2014 – Nurnberg
2016 – Kuala Lumpur, Hobart
2014 – Wimbledon, Wuhan
2013 – Osaka
To reach the semi-finals of Slams on three different surfaces should highlight how good she can be but it does also illustrate how important confidence can be for her.
Her only title to date has come in Nurnberg, again in 2014, and she has been a losing finalist on five occasions.
Will she return to her best?
The million dollar question.
Bouchard has everything on paper to be the standout star of the WTA Tour.
She’s shown in the past she has the game and the mentality to go deep into Grand Slams and is obviously extremely marketable but whether the two sides can coexist can often be a burden on a young player.
One example that springs to mind is that of Grigor Dimitrov.
Like Bouchard, he enjoyed a fabulous 2014 season and was tipped by many to become the king of the men’s game.
He enjoyed a high-profile romantic relationship with fellow global star Sharapova and appeared to be on top of the world.
However, midway through 2016, the Bulgarian’s form had dipped so dramatically that he’d fallen from world No. 8 to 40th in the ATP ranking.
Dimitrov has admitted himself he allowed issues off-court to interfere with his dedication on it and one wonders if that is the case with Bouchard.
One thing that can’t be stressed enough is the amount of time she has on her hands. At 22, she’s potentially got a decade of brilliant tennis ahead of her.
If she can focus like Dimitrov, who has already won two titles in the opening months of the year, she has all the tools to return to the top of the WTA rankings.
What’s a realistic target for her in 2017?
It’s not been a terrible start to the year and there are signs that Bouchard is ready to enjoy a good season.
Given the quality she possesses and relatively low number of ranking points she has to defend, a decent climb up the rankings is more than possible.
Dimitrov has moved from 40th in the world to No. 13 since July and a similar climb is not beyond Bouchard.
A couple of kind draws in the Grand Slams combined with the focused tennis we all know she’s capable of could easily see her move back towards the top end of women’s tennis this season.