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Prudential Hong Kong Tennis Open

Eugenie Bouchard trades texts with Super Bowl Twitter date as she prepares for long-awaited Hong Kong Tennis Open debut

Social media storm around NFL bet still following the 23-year-old as she looks to take a more relaxed approach to her game at Victoria Park

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 07 October, 2017, 4:07pm
UPDATED : Monday, 09 October, 2017, 9:37am

It set social media alight and overshadowed her struggles on the tennis court and now Eugenie Bouchard says her Super Bowl Twitter date “wants to try come see me during my off season”.

Ahead of her first appearance in the Prudential Hong Kong Tennis Open, Bouchard said she was still in disbelief at the attention her lost bet, and resultant date, attracted.

“You’re not going to believe this, but he texted me this morning. The past couple of days we have been texting. We keep in contact once in a while,” Bouchard, 23, said.

“It got so much more attention than anyone expected, I was literally on my couch on Twitter thinking nothing of it and then it blew up into this huge thing.”

With the Atlanta Falcons ahead 21-0 in February’s Super Bowl, Bouchard tweeted, “I knew Atlanta would win btw”.

The opportunistic John Goehrke jumped in with “if patriots win we go on a date?” with New England’s record comeback sparking an online sensation that still follows Bouchard to this day.

“It was really cool, I think, because it was a happy event and it was all positive and a nice story for people, unfortunately it caused a lot of people to have hope as well,” she said.

“I get a lot of questions, pretty much every sporting event in the world now I get requests, ‘if they win, we go on a date, if they lose by this score, we go on a date’.

“I think that’ll continue happening for a long time, [but] it was a very nice experience.”

Excited to be stepping out in Hong Kong after two false starts, Bouchard said the furore involving then Hong Kong Tennis Association president Herbert Chow Siu-lung and the WTA after she pulled out at the last minute in 2014 is now behind her. Chow was fined US$10,000 for making “disparaging” remarks about her late exit.

“That is something I don’t really want to dwell on, that was a couple of years ago. I’m here now and everyone is happy,” Bouchard said.

“I’ve always wanted to play in Hong Kong so the fact I am able to this year makes me excited. The ‘other stuff’ is not something I’ve thought about this year.”

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It’s been a bumpy on-court ride for the Canadian, who reached a career-high ranking of five in 2014 but has been on the slide since and is sitting 79th.

She comes to Hong Kong after an early exit in this week’s China Open in Beijing and hopes the new surroundings of Victoria Park will help her produce her best.

“It’s rare that I’m in a city I’ve never been in before and a tournament I’ve never been in before ... you can’t compare yourself to anything in the past, whereas most tournaments you think about your past matches and memories at that event,” she said.

“I’m looking forward to playing some good tennis and sweating a lot. I spent a lot of time training in Florida where it’s pretty similar conditions so hopefully that will help me out.”

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As a tough 2017 season draws to a close, Bouchard says she hopes a new approach will see her climb back towards the top 10 next year.

“I’m just continuing to work hard and I want to try to approach it mentally a little bit differently and be a bit more relaxed, not put so much pressure on myself about winning matches and not being so concerned about what people say,” she said.

“There’s always a lot you can improve and it’s the magic question of finding out what’s going wrong that you need to change to become a better player and improve your ranking.

“I just want to end the season enjoying being on the court and enjoying competing and whatever happens will happen.”

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Add to her refreshed mindset a dose of perspective and Bouchard is confident everything will be OK. “I think about how other people in the world go through a lot tougher times and if my ranking drops from five to 50, which it did, and now 50 to 80, I’m still top 100 in the world, in the best women’s sport in the world,” she said.

“I still have an amazing life so I can’t say what I go through is tough.”