Eugenie Bouchard of Canada in action.
Eugenie Bouchard of Canada in action. John Minchillo

Bouchard hopes Brisbane debut can spark return to form

TENNIS: Former Wimbledon runner-up Eugenie Bouchard hopes a return to her favourite tennis stomping ground, Australia, will drive her back towards grand slam contention next year.

Bouchard, the Canadian player with one of the biggest social media followings of tennis players, has arrived in Brisbane from Vancouver for her first appearance at the Brisbane International, starting next week.

Bouchard's 2014 Australian Open semi-final run built momentum for her Wimbledon final appearance five months later and a top-five ranking.

A loss of form last year means she returns to Australia ranked No.46, just inside the cut-off for direct entry.

It's a run of outs she attributes to having trouble building a successful team of coaches and fitness advisers around her and moments of dietary shortcomings, among other factors.

"It (a return to the tennis elite) is not a question of if it will happen, but when,” a forthright Bouchard said.

"I don't know when, but if I work hard good things will happen.

"My ultimate goal is win a grand slam (title), but it's baby steps.

"Australia is always my favourite country to come visit. It's where I had my first grand slam breakthrough and I'll always have fond memories of Australian Open and Australia in general.

"Hopefully I can stay here for a nice, long month (meaning a long run at the Australian Open).”

The 22-year-old re-teamed in the off-season with vastly experienced coach Thomas Hogstedt after she released him early in 2016 to be join Nick Saviano.

"We are glad to be working together and there's a lot of positive energy,” she said of Hogstedt.

"We had a great time when we worked together at the start of 2016.”

Hogstedt suggested Bouchard play the Brisbane International for the first time, even though she will be unseeded at an event with eight of the top 16-ranked women, including world No.1 Angelique Kerber.

"My coach and agent thought it was a good thing to come here,” she said.

"It's a tough tournament - each round is like the third round of a grand slam, so I have to be ready.”

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