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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 26 March 2019

Eugenie Bouchard in determined mood ahead of Simona Halep showdown in Dubai

Canadian takes on world No 2 in second round of Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships having won only one of their four previous encounters

Eugenie Bouchard overcame Vera Lapko in her first-round match at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis WTA Championships in Dubai on Sunday. EPA
Eugenie Bouchard overcame Vera Lapko in her first-round match at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis WTA Championships in Dubai on Sunday. EPA

Wildcard Eugenie Bouchard is determined to leave nothing on court when she takes on reigning French Open champion Simona Halep in the second round of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Tuesday.

The Canadian, contesting the tournament’s main draw for the first time, came through her opening match at the Tennis Stadium late on Sunday night, seeing off Belarusian Vera Lapko 6-3, 6-4 on Centre Court.

The victory set up a fifth encounter with Halep, the former world No 1 who jumped a spot into second place in the rankings on Monday following her runner-up finish in Doha at the weekend.

The Romanian currently leads the head-to-head 3-1, notching wins at marquee tournaments such as the 2014 WTA Finals, the 2014 BNP Paribas Open, and last year’s Australian Open.

Bouchard’s only success came during her breakout year in 2014, in the semi-finals at Wimbledon. The former world No 5, now ranked 80, therefore knows well the task that waits in Round 2, although she prefers not to cast the mind back to their most recent meeting. In Melbourne 13 months ago, Halep ran out a 6-2, 6-2 winner in the second round. Halep went all the way to the final before losing to Caroline Wozniacki.

“That wasn’t a really good match for me so I don’t want to think about that, or really compare myself at different time periods,” Bouchard said. “It’s just about going out there and trying to give it my all and give myself the best chance.

“I don’t want to have any regrets after, no matter what happens. That’s really my No 1 goal."

Bouchard, 24, came into Dubai suffering the ill effects of a cold from Qatar last week - she lost in the qualifiers - and subsequently has had to adjust her practice. In Halep, she faces one of the most accomplished counter-punchers in the game, and said she recognises she must then be on top of her own game if she is to stand any chance of progressing.

“It was interesting [against Lapko], I actually asked [my coach] if I was being aggressive enough, because it felt like I wasn’t,” Bouchard said. “I was also ready to expect big shots from my opponent.

“Whereas in the next match I’ll have to try and take it to her a little more, but of course still have that consistency. Finding that balance is definitely one of the most crucial things.

“It’s about having that consistency and the aggressiveness because I know I play my best when I go for it. But picking the right ball is important and that helps me to stay consistent. I’ll try to figure it all out.”

Bouchard said experience has allowed her to flit between her strategies during matches.

"I was definitely like that more in the past but I did well," she said. "But the awareness is more now I'm getting older. I’m at least realising ‘OK I'm maybe a bit more aggressive or less aggressive’, whether it’s want I want to do or not, to just be aware of it and decide 'OK, if I need to change something.' It'll be important for me to realise this in the next match and to adjust if necessary.”

Updated: February 18, 2019 01:41 PM

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