Perfectionist Eugenie Bouchard revealed she had given herself a stern talking to after surviving a second-set collapse to book her place in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open for the second year running.
Bouchard, who went on to reach the last four in Melbourne on her championship debut 12 months ago, won the first set against Romania’s Irina-Camelia Begu 6-1 on Rod Laver Arena and was 3-0 up in the second with two breaks of serve.
However, the 20-year-old then lost the next five games in a row and eventually the set 7-5, before some harsh words during a toilet break inspired the Canadian to take the decider 6-2 and set up a last-eight clash with second seed Maria Sharapova.
“I feel like I started really well so I wanted to keep that going but she came up with a couple of shots and my level totally dropped, which was not good,” Bouchard said.
As well as reaching the semi-finals in Melbourne, Bouchard’s breakout year saw her reach the same stage in the French Open – where she lost to Sharapova – and a first grand slam final at Wimbledon, where she was beaten by Petra Kvitova.
Asked what had changed between last season and this, Bouchard added: “I think I just have that inner belief. I really have that confidence even if it’s not going well, just like in my previous round. I was able to stay calm and I know I have another gear to go to and I still have a good chance if I just keep fighting and keep trying.”
Sharapova followed Bouchard on to Rod Laver Arena and defeated China’s Shuai Peng 6-3 6-0 to continue making the most of saving two match points in the second round against Alexandra Panova.
“I feel like someone or something gave me another chance and when you are close to losing a match you have to try a few different things. I thought I did that well in the rounds after that match,” Sharapova said.
The other quarter-final in the bottom half of the draw was also decided on Sunday evening, with 10th seed Ekaterina Makarova defeating Julia Goerges 6-3 6-2 to reach the last eight for the third time in four years.
Makarova will face third-seed Simona Halep, who made light work of Yanina Wickmayer, 6-4 6-2.