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Rising Canadian tennis star Eugenie Bouchard ready to build on strong season

10/25/2013 05:22 EDT | Updated 12/25/2013 05:12 EST
Eugenie Bouchard's days of playing lower-tier events and working through qualifying draws appear to be over.

The Canadian tennis player's first full season on the WTA Tour was a strong one. She has risen to No. 32 in the world rankings and will likely be seeded at the first Grand Slam event of the 2014 season.

Bouchard scored some big victories this year and proved she can hang on court with the sport's elite. Her next mission is to build on that momentum as she looks ahead to next year.

"I've always believed in my skill," Bouchard said Friday on a conference call. "I think it was just a matter of time for me to get to this level. But then again, I don't want to stay here.

"I want to work hard in the off-season and get ready for 2014 and try to improve as fast as I can and even more for next year."

At just 19 years of age, Bouchard posted impressive victories this past season over big names like Jelena Jankovic, Ana Ivanovic and Sloane Stephens. The young Canadian pushed Venus Williams to three sets last month in Tokyo and reached her first Tour final this month at the Japan Open.

Not bad for a player who was ranked No. 144 in the world at the end of the 2012 season.

Bouchard was also given heavy promotional treatment at last summer's Rogers Cup in Toronto. Her matches were given showcourt attention and she performed admirably in the brighter spotlight.

"I do like it, it's part of the job," she said. "I think the harder I work and the better I do, that will happen more often."

Bouchard doesn't have a specific ranking goal for next season. She simply wants to improve all facets of her game and get stronger by continuing to play the top players on tour.

One area where she noticed an improvement of late was her on-court transition from defence to offence. She also feels her mental game is better.

"I've played big matches and gained so much experience," she said. "I've played on centre court at the French Open, centre court at Wimbledon and at Louis Armstrong (stadium court) at the U.S. Open. Those are big matches and big moments that really have given me a lot of confidence and strength and experience."

Bouchard, who is from Westmount, Que., but trains primarily with coach Nick Saviano in Florida, has a 39-24 record this year and earned over US$415,000 in prize money. Her top highlight was beating Ivanovic on Centre Court at the All-England Club, the same venue where Bouchard won the Wimbledon junior title a year earlier.

"It was an amazing feeling," she said. "In tennis you can't get a bigger stage than that."

Bouchard's 2014 campaign will kick off during the holiday season at the Hopman Cup mixed tennis team tournament in Perth, Australia. She will team up with Milos Raonic of Thornhill, Ont., for the Dec. 28-Jan. 4 event before continuing preparations for the Australian Open.

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