New York: Canada`s Eugenie Bouchard, slumping this season after a magnificent Grand Slam run last year, has regained form at the US Open with some help from a tennis legend -- Jimmy Connors.
With Connors working as an advisor, the 21-year-old from Montreal has reached the fourth round on the New York hardcourts, winning three matches in a row for the first time since a January run to the Australian Open quarter-finals.
"Working with Jimmy has really given me a different side of things, like a different point of view," Bouchard said.
"He`s very energetic. He`s kind of lifted my spirits a little bit. He believes in me. He helped me kind of believe in myself more and regain that confidence. That has helped me."
And the 63-year-old American, a five-time US Open winner and eight-time Grand Slam champion whose last major trophy came at the 1983 US Open, will attend his first Bouchard match at the Open on Sunday when she faces Italy`s Roberta Vinci.
"It will be great," Bouchard said. "I talk to him every day, though. He`s watching all the time. But yeah, of course his presence will be greatly appreciated. I think we`ve had a good couple weeks, so I just want to keep that going."
Bouchard reached last year`s Australian and French Open semi-finals and the Wimbledon final, losing to Czech Petra Kvitova, as well as collecting her first WTA title at Nuremberg.
But after her Melbourne surge, Bouchard dropped her first matches this year at Roland Garros and Wimbledon and is only 12-17 on the season.
"He said, `You`re too good to be having the results you`re having,`" Bouchard said of Connors. "He has definitely helped me in my time of need.
"Everyone kind of jumped on the bandwagon last year and this year were quick to go for the throat."
Connors, whose last Grand Slam event was the 1992 US Open, made an epic 1991 US Open semi-final run at age of 39. The mental and physical fortitude needed for such a run is something Bouchard hopes to benefit from.
"I`ve known Jimmy for a couple of years actually. He has been a friend. We just decided to work together a couple days. It was just great to get on the court with him the first time," she said.
"He has so much experience. Just hearing his stories and listening to him speak, I respect him so much. I think he was great mentally when he played. Just the little tips and advice he would give me. The fact that he told me he truly believes in me reminded me, `Hey, I need to believe in myself as well.` We just needed to build up my confidence a little bit."
Defeating Vinci might do that. It was only two weeks ago at New Haven when Vinci, ranked 18 spots below the Canadian at 43rd in the world, ripped Bouchard 6-1, 6-0 in their first meeting.
"I think my loss was kind of a shock to me, a little bit of a wake-up call in a sense I had to get my act together a little bit," Bouchard said.
There`s no notion of learning from earlier mistakes.
"I`ve tried to erase that match from my memory," Bouchard said. "I don`t even want to think about it."