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 reached the semi-finals 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.
“It’s disappointing for me because I want to play so well and I want to be perfect. That’s not possible. I think I started being a bit less aggressive, a bit too passive and that’s not my game at all. I don’t do well when that happens.
“I gave myself a good long, hard look in the mirror and said ‘Genie this is unacceptable’ and really kicked myself in the butt a little bit. I tried to relax and play my game, I play so much better when I do that.”
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.
Sharapova has won all three previous meetings with Bouchard but is expecting a difficult contest against the world number seven.
“We had a tough three-setter in the French Open where I had to come from one set down and she has been playing incredibly well,” the 27-year-old added. “I have a tough match ahead of me but I always look forward to those matches.
“She’s a pretty aggressive player. She stays really close to the line, she likes to dictate the points. I feel that’s where she’s hurt a lot of players and been really successful.”