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Eugénie Bouchard leads Canada into Fed Cup tie with Ukraine

Eugénie Bouchard, who recently cracked the top 100 in world rankings, will play Svitolina in the opening singles match of Canada’s Federation Cup World Group II playoff tie this weekend with Ukraine. (file photo)


Eugénie Bouchard is set to face Elina Svitolina once again.

Bouchard, who recently cracked the top 100 in world rankings, will play Svitolina in the opening singles match of Canada's Federation Cup World Group II playoff tie this weekend with Ukraine. Her match is followed by Sharon Fichman of Toronto against Ukraine's top singles player Lesia Tsurenko.

The 19-year-old Bouchard whipped Svitolina 6-2, 6-2 on the grass court in the Wimbledon junior final last summer. It was the Westmount, Que., native's first major international triumph, and she added the doubles title for good measure.

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They have faced each other three times all together, with 18-year-old Svitolina taking their most recent encounter 7-6, 5-7, 6-2 on a hard court at Indian Wells in March.

Now they will meet on a bumpy clay court in Canada's first Fed Cup meeting with Ukraine.

"I have to play like I did in the Wimbledon final," Bouchard said on a conference call Friday. "I've never played her on clay, so it will be a different match.

"I have to be tough mentally. I know she can be up and down."

The winner of the best-of-five series gets a spot in 2014 in World Group II, the second highest level of Fed Cup.

Fichman will play Svitolina and Bouchard will face Tsurenko in singles on Sunday, followed by a doubles match pitting Fichman and Gabriela Dabrowski of Ottawa against Yuliya Beygelzimer and Kateryna Kozlova.

The host country built a temporary, indoor clay court on what is usually a basketball court at the Sports Club Meridian.

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"It's difficult, lots of bad bounces," said Bouchard.

Canadian team captain Sylvain Bruneau called it a small, intimate venue that should not be too intimidating for the visitors.

"It's uneven, but I know it was the same for some of the Ukrainian girls," he said. "The court is fine.

"Eugenie is good on clay and Fichman is better on clay."

Bouchard followed up on her junior victory with an impressive first season as a full time pro.

The righthander is coming off a trip to the quarter-finals of a tournament in Charleston in which she ousted top Briton Laura Robson and then posted a first win over a top-10 player in No. 9 Samatha Stosur before falling to 18th ranked Jelena Jankovic.

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Bouchard is ranked 93rd in the world, while Svitolina, who was the 2012 French Open junior champ, is 90th after some strong outings of her own.

Fichman is ranked 125th in singles while Tsurenko is 71st. Substitute Stephanie Dubois of Laval, Que., is ranked 148th.

Canada's top woman player, 67th ranked Aleksandra Wozniak of Blainville, Que., is out with a shoulder injury. Wozniak is 29-8 in career singles Fed Cup matches.

Canada plowed through American Zone 1 play at Medellin, Colombia, in February, beating Peru, Brazil, Venezuela and the host country to reach the World Group II playoffs.

Dabrowski went 3-0 in doubles in her first Fed Cup action, including the decisive victory over Brazil while paired with Fichman.

Canada's best Fed Cup performance was reaching the semifinals in 1988. They last played in World Group II in 2011.

Other Group II playoffs have Poland at Belgium, Kazakhstan at France and Britain at Argentina.

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