Genie Bouchard hoping Jimmy Connors can revive her career - Metro US

Genie Bouchard hoping Jimmy Connors can revive her career

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Genie Bouchard knew just where to turn with her season on the brink.

Thepromising young Canadian tennis star put in a call to the legendary Jimmy Connors with the hopes that the five-time US Open champion could help revive her stalled career.

“I’ve known Jimmy for a couple of years actually,” the No. 25 seed said ahead of hersecond-round match Wednesday with Polona Hercog at the US Open. “He’s been a friend. He was here this week. We just decided to work together for a couple days,even though we knew he was leaving. He left [Sunday]night.”

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Tennis fans and reporters were abuzz on the Internet last week when pictures surfacedof the 62-year-old Connnors working with the 21-year-old Bouchard at both the West Side Tennis Club and the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

“We’re just friends,” Connors toldThe New York Times.

Connors, of course, won the Open on all three surfaces — hardcourts, clay and grass — and made a memorable run to the semifinals in 1991 at 39. He captured eight Grand Slam titles and is regarded as one of the fiercest competitors of all time.

Still, his coaching track record isn’t exactly stellar. Connors previously coached Andy Roddick for almost two years and then had an ill-fated partnership with Maria Sharapova that lasted just one match in 2013.

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“Working this week with Jimmy has really given me a different side of things, like a different point of view,” Bouchard said. “He’s very energetic. He’s kind of lifted my spirits a little bit. He believes in me. He helped me kind of believe in myself more and regain that confidence.”

It made sense for Bouchard to seek him out, even if it’s not a full-fledged coaching commitment as of yet.

After reaching the Wimbledon final and two other Grand Slam semifinals in 2014, the blonde bombshell was hailed as the next big thing in tennis and drew comparisons to the iconic Sharapova.

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Yet her success was short-lived.

The Canadianis just4-15 sincethe fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California, in March. Last week in New Haven she was blown out by Roberta Vinci, 6-1, 6-0.

Yet Bouchard earned a much-needed victory on Monday at the Open when she knocked out American Alison Riske, 6-4, 6-3, before a pro-Genie capacity crowd on the intimate Court 17. At least one fan yelled, “I love you, Genie,” while others repeatedly snapped her picture.

During her struggles, shefelt the press turned on her and she was given a crash course in the realities of life on the pro tennis tour.

“I’ve learned the media, they always want to write a story,” she said. “They always need a headline. I try not to take it personally. You know, I don’t think I deserved all the stuff I got. You know, at the same time it’s their job, it’s your jobs, and I respect that.”

Bouchard said it’s important to focus on herself and remain positive.

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“I’m a good tennis player,” she said. “I have the skill. I have everything I need. Just no matter what keep working, keep my head up, keep my spirits up, keep that belief no matter what people say. It can be hard at times when you hear so many negative things.

“If I think that about myself, my inner team truly believes in me as well. That helps. That is what is helping me get through.”

If she can get through to the Round of 16, Connors will be back at the Open, the site of his previous glories. In the meantime, Bouchard checks in with him on the phone to get pointers and inspiration.

“He is [coming back] but only next Sunday,” Bouchard said with a smile. “So I have to do well to see him again.”

Follow Adam Zagoria on Twitter @AdamZagoria for updates throughout the U.S. Open.

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