Montrealer Eugenie Bouchard survives scare, wins opener at Australian Open
Eugenie Bouchard of Canada hits a shot to Tang Hao Chen of China during their first round match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Monday, Jan. 13, 2014. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi)
Published Monday, January 13, 2014 9:15AM EST
MELBOURNE, Australia -- Canadian Eugenie Bouchard survived a scare from a 431st-ranked challenger from China on Monday to reach the second round of the Australian Open, scoring a 7-5, 6-1 victory over Chen Tang Hao.
Bouchard, the 30th seed from Montreal, rode a roller-coaster in the one-hour opening set after earning a 3-1 lead, only to lose it a game later on a double-fault to her neophyte opponent.
Bouchard, recently named The Canadian Press Female Athlete of the Year, was broken again to drop to 3-4 as Tang rifled back a return winner before holding for a 5-3 lead.
Bouchard saved set points in the ensuing game on Tang errors before finally earning a 7-5 win on a break.
The 19-year-old Bouchard was more in control in the second set and dominated to win the set 6-1.
"It was really fun, I had some good support, it was good atmosphere," but admitted that the 35 degree heat was a challenge.
"It was hotter than past few days, tough for both of us. It's strange training at one temperature (around 25 on Sunday) and playing in something completely different. But no complaints, it was the same for both of us.
"I'm big on sunscreen and hydration, especially the night before. I did a good job of it and was fine. I'd rather play tennis in the sun than do anything else anyway."
Vasek Pospisil, a 23-year-old Vancouver resident who grew up in Vernon, B.C., is playing as a seed for the first time at a grand slam and is ranked 28th. He plays his first-round match Monday against unseeded Sam Groth of Australia.
American Venus Williams lost her opening round match at the tournament.
The unseeded American fell to number-22 Ekaterina Makarova of Russia after winning the opening set 6-2, then dropping the next two. At 33, Williams is the second-oldest player in the tournament and a seven-time Grand Slam singles champion.