Heat, Pressure, Ekaterina Makarova Do In Eugenie Bouchard


NEW YORK -- Ekaterina Makarova has been to a Grand Slam quarterfinal before, but odds are she could walk through the middle of the Billie Jean King USTA National Tennis Center without attracting a crowd of autograph seekers.

Which is the way the 26-year-old Russian likes it. "I think I prefer to stay in the shade," said Makarova, smiling. "But I'm kind of, yeah, want to stay in my world maybe. I don't want to be so, I don't know. It's just my personal thing."

You can't say the same for the player she beat in the fourth round of the US Open on Monday. Seventh-seeded Eugenie Bouchard, a 20-year-old Canadian, graced the cover of the New York Times Magazine before the Open started, in which paragraphs were devoted to discretely describing the emerging profile of a woman with more than just a beautiful game. Ever since reaching the Wimbledon final, Bouchard has snared endorsements and attention as the pressure has grown to build upon her success.

But it wasn't to be for Bouchard at the US Open. In a hot and humid Louis Armstrong Stadium, the 17th-seeded Makarova defeated a wilting Bouchard 7-6 (2), 6-4. Bouchard was clearly affected by the heat, officially documented at 89.7 degrees on Ashe at 1 p.m., and she called a medical timeout midway through the second set.

Bouchard said she felt dizzy and things got blurry in the heat. She's experienced this before, in Australia and here when she was a junior. She was determined not to retire from Monday's match, even if she didn't have a great feeling about her chances.

"I'm always disappointed to lose, and especially, I gave my full effort, but not knowing that I could give everything," Bouchard said. "But, you know, I didn't have the highest expectations [for] myself for this tournament. Since Wimbledon it's been a little bit of a struggle with nagging injuries."

The timeout, incidentally, gave Makarova a much-needed rest as well.

"Well, actually, I thought, 'Thanks,' because I also was tired," Makarova said. "It was really [a] help for me also because I had some time to recover and also to use some ice bags. It was actually kind of good medical timeout."

Bouchard's loss means that just two top-10 women's seeds reached the quarterfinals: No. 1 Serena Williams and No. 10 Caroline Wozniacki.

Bouchard's Open may not have been what she wanted, but her year has been outstanding. Martina Hingis played her a few years ago at an exhibition and took notice.

"Of course, now the expectations since Wimbledon and all the Grand Slam success, she's had to have a bit more pressure here," Hingis said. "But she's still young and she can learn from that. Honestly I think she's done a lot better than people expected her and she's a great player and she's been improving."

Things sometimes change for a young player after early success. There can be an adjustment period, and Bouchard said she's certainly felt things change since Wimbledon.

"I definitely felt a lot of outside expectations and pressure, you know, to win matches," Bouchard said. "I felt more like it's normal if I win and it's a bit more of a disaster when I lose. But that's something that I need to, you know, block out. It's what I have been working on. I feel like I have been dealing with it well generally to really, you know, just go back to the basics, focus on my tennis. That is what has gotten me to this point, so I just need to keep going on that path."

And that's the crux of it. Whether a high or low profile, it's the tennis that matters.

Makarova is the last Russian woman in the draw, and this is her fifth Grand Slam quarterfinal -- but she's never made it to a semifinal. She beat  Agnieszka Radwanska at Wimbledon this season, and admits a knack for beating top players on the big stage.

"I don't know why it happened in Grand Slams different than other tournaments," Makarova said. "Maybe I have more motivation in Grand Slam and it's different tournament for me like for everyone, I think, yeah? Also, like, for Olympics Games, also really different for me. So sometimes maybe on the smaller tournament I don't have that motivation or, you know, that feeling that I have in the Grand Slam. So that's why a lot of great players, yeah, I can beat."