Eugenie Bouchard's plight casts doubt over appearance at Hong Kong's showcase tennis event
Doubt cast on Canadian star turning up for Victoria Park tournament after she suffers badly in stifling conditions during loss at US Open
Hong Kong Open organisers are waiting anxiously to hear from Eugenie Bouchard on whether she will turn up for their inaugural event next week after the Canadian pin-up girl suffered badly in the heat during her fourth-round loss at the US Open.
Bouchard, 20, was at the centre of a medical drama when she had to have her blood pressure and temperature taken in her 7-6 (7-2), 6-4 defeat by Russian 17th seed Ekaterina Makarova.
"We are trying to get in touch with Bouchard's manager. We have no news from her," said a worried Kenneth Low, tournament director of the US$250,000 Prudential-sponsored tournament at Victoria Park, which starts on Monday.
Bouchard, the world number eight, is the top drawcard as Hong Kong returns to the world of a WTA-sanctioned event for the first time since 1993.
Organisers had been worried the Wimbledon finalist might not make it in time if she reached the final rounds in New York with the final scheduled for Monday (Hong Kong time), a few hours before the first round of the local showpiece gets under way.
But the injury scare will be a bigger concern, with Bouchard bothered by the heat and stifling humidity and complaining of dizziness as she bowed out.
Apart from Bouchard, organisers were also keeping a close eye on the progress of China's Peng Shuai, who was to play Swiss teenager Belinda Bencic in the quarter-finals. She beat the teen to reach the semi-finals.
Bouchard called the medical timeout at 3-2 down in the second set when she was obviously struggling in the 31-degree Celsius heat and humidity running at 60 per cent.
Plastic bags filled with ice were rubbed on her shoulders, arms and legs during a second-set medical timeout. She had her blood pressure checked.
The defeat ended Bouchard's streak of making at least the semi-finals at each grand slam tournament this year.
"I never want to retire from matches no matter what. I was going to play on for sure.
"I was feeling very light-headed and dizzy on the court, just seeing things a little blurry. I just generally didn't feel good," said Bouchard whose defeat meant that for only the second time in the Open era there will be just one top-eight seed in the quarter-finals of a major.
"It developed as the match went on. I have had a few late, tough matches here, and I don't think I fully recovered from those.
"I definitely felt a lot of outside expectation and pressure to win matches. I felt more like it's normal if I win and it's a bit more of a disaster when I lose," Bouchard said. "But that's something that I need to block out."
Makarova also used ice bags as she waited during Bouchard's medical break. "Well, actually, I thought, 'Thanks', because I was also tired," Makarova said with a smile.
It's not the first time Bouchard has been affected by heat, saying it happened at last year's US Open, too, and as a junior at the Australian Open.
"Once in a while, I get a little bit light-headed," Bouchard said. "That's what happens."
Additional reporting by Associated Press, Agence France-Presse