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By Joe McDonald | Tuesday, August 30, 2016

 
Genie Bouchard

"It’s hard not to remember what happened last year. Obviously I am trying to focus on the positive," Bouchard said after he US Open first-round defeat.

Photo credit: Billie Weiss/Connecticut Open

NEW YORK—In this litigious world, some players face legal issues just like the rest of us.

Still, the unusual situation of battling in multiple New York courts wasn't lost on Genie Bouchard as she stepped on Grandstand to play Katerina Siniakova with her lawsuit against the USTA hanging over her head.

US Open: Live Blog, Day 2

Bouchard may have been the first woman to play a major while actively suing that Slam.

Playing her second career US Open match, the 72nd-ranked Siniakova fought off Bouchard, 6-3, 3-6, 6-2, to advance to the second round.

“If I sit down and think about it, yeah it’s definitely a strange situation,” Bouchard told a packed interview room afterward. “But it’s so far in the back of my mind. I don’t think about it on a daily basis at all. I have lawyers on that side of it. It’s really something I don’t think about.”

Last year, Bouchard suffered a concussion after she slipped on a wet floor in the locker room at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. She withdrew from the tournament.

Effects from that concussion prevented the 21-year-old Canadian from completing a match after the Open last season.

Bouchard's lawsuit claims her injuries ''were caused solely by the reason of carelessness, negligence, wanton and willful disregard on the part of defendant USTA.''

The USTA presents a completely different interpretation of events, disputing nearly every charge in Bouchard's lawsuit. The USTA claims Bouchard declined medical treatment the night of the September 4th fall and left the Open without being examined.

The Tennis Association also countered that as an experienced professional, Bouchard should have and would have known the protocol and procedures between players and locker-room staff and concludes the "damages alleged, if any, were caused by the negligence and culpable conduct of the plaintiff."

Bouchard's attorney has called the USTA's response "victim blaming."

Entering the Open unseeded this year, Bouchard said she had mixed emotions prior to today's first round return.

“Obviously being back here, I had mixed emotions,” Bouchard said. “It’s hard not to remember what happened last year. Obviously I am trying to focus on the positive. I also had great memories at the US Open. I had great memories last year and the year before that. So I tried to focus on that.” The focus wasn’t enough.




Admitting she didn't "play well," Bouchard was bounced in two hours, 14 minutes.

“I think I had amazing results in 2014,” Bouchard said, “And it’s hard to have results line that every year. I am trying to work hard to become the best I can and the results I want and it doesn’t always go my way.”

Although she said she has been treated well here at the National Tennis Center, you have to wonder if the litigation had something to do with Bouchard’s failure this season and that walking the same halls, even though renovated, must have brought back memories.

"It’s one of those things that you try to mentally block those things out,” Bouchard said. “I have a lot going on this week, so I tried to focus on that.”

The world No. 39 leaves the Open unscathed this year and can compete in the Asian season coming up next month. She tried to come back early last year and still had the symptoms from the concussion, which made things “difficult.”

So everything is all clear now, except her game, which still needs to get back on track.

Bouchard hopes she shake the off the confidence issues and rust and return to the high level of play she displayed in 2014.

And hopefully resolve her legal issues and move forward.

 

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