PARIS (Reuters) - As a ten-game meltdown in her second-round French Open exit demonstrated, Eugenie Bouchard is still prone to losing her way on court in dramatic fashion.
But having reunited with her old coach, the former world No. 5 also showed glimpses on Thursday of being back on the right path, after tumbling down the rankings in a sport she admits is played 90 percent in the head.
Bouchard, who reached the 2014 Wimbledon final, split with Nick Saviano to work with the seasoned Sam Sumyk during the off season of that year.
That partnership failed to gel and, after a fall at the 2015 US Open that sidelined her for three months with concussion and a head injury, a switch to Thomas Hogstedt worked no better.
She fell to 61st in the rankings before deciding to team up with Saviano again in April.
She already feels she has improved, having notably beaten Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber in Rome earlier this month and risen back to 47th.
“I‘m happy to be working with Nick again,” Bouchard said after losing 6-4 6-4 to Swiss eighth seed Timea Bacsinszky.
”He’s known me since I was 12 and we’ve always had a good relationship.
“I think we both appreciate one another probably more having kind of a year and a half apart. I think he’s the right coach for me... I‘m looking forward to a lot more improvement.”
In a world of hard hitters where aggression is a key attribute, Bouchard is now trying to make a better use of her intelligence.
Thursday’s defeat saw her lose ten games in a row, a statistic she called unacceptable and a consequence of “the mental part” letting her down.
Still only 22, she says it’s something she’s working hard on - and a pullback from 5-0 to 5-4 in the second set suggests it’s close to paying bigger dividends.
“I like to say tennis is 90 per cent mental. I‘m kind of on this path to try to get it to be my amazing (mental) strength again like it was in the past,” she said.
“The brain is like a muscle. You’ve got to work it out. So that’s what I been trying to do. Doesn’t always work out on the match court, but slowly but surely hopefully it will.”
Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by XXXX