Appraising Azarenka's questionable remark about Bouchard

Azarenka and Bouchard have both disappointed in 2015. (AP)

L’Affaire de Bouchard was probably something that a tennis star wouldn’t wish on their worst enemy. Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard has suffered a classic plight—the sophomore slump—this season. And she has slumped hard. But not quite as hard as Victoria Azarenka, on the rebound herself after a smattering of injuries, might have it.

Azarenka retired from her second-round match in Wuhan against Johanna Konta, who has now exploded onto the WTA tour. (The British upstart went on to beat top seed Simona Halep today.) The two-time Australian Open champion notably bristled at a reporter’s post-match question that sought to compare her struggles to those of Bouchard. 

“Well, I didn’t lose 11 matches in a row,” Azarenka’s answer began, “so it’s a little bit different of a learning experience she has with herself. I’m not in the position to comment on what she’s done.

Fair enough, frankly. But you can bet that Azarenka’s remarks will be hoisted up as the latest shining example of cattiness among players, something of a mean-spirited slight dealt verbally to a competitor. But non-verbal communication—encompassing tone, facial expressions, gestures, inflection and more—is everything. And we don’t get that in her answer as shown in a transcript.  

On another level, Azarenka is wrong about Bouchard’s 11-match losing streak. The figure is actually six. Even so, five or six straight first-round losses make for a surefire devolution in tennis, especially for one who made it to the semifinal round or better at three of four major tournaments the previous year.

Long story long, have a heart about Bouchard—but don’t blast Azarenka for speaking (next to) the truth. Both of them are relatively limping into what this season’s end holds for them.

Follow Jon on Twitter @jonscott9. News tips gladly accepted. Serving tips kindly refused.

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