Eugenie Bouchard has revealed how her fellow tennis professionals wishing her luck motivated her to defeat Maria Sharapova in the second round of the Madrid Open on Monday (8 May).
The Canadian pulled off the biggest win of her career as she defeated Sharapova 7-5, 2-6, 6-4 in a nearly three-hour match.
The tie was highly anticipated due to Bouchard's recent comments on Sharapova who had returned in April from a 15-month suspension after testing positive for meldonium, labelling the Russian a "cheater".
"She's a cheater and so to me, I don't think a cheater in any sport should be allowed to play that sport again," the world number 60 said.
Following the win, Bouchard talked about how she was inspired to win before her match with the former world number one.
"I was inspired because I had a lot of players coming up to me privately, wishing me good luck," Bouchard said, as quoted on BBC. "They were players I don't normally speak to and I got a lot of texts from people in the tennis world that were just rooting for me. I wanted to do it for myself, but also for all these people."
"Some girls in the locker room were coming up to me and really wishing me good luck which doesn't normally happen. It showed me that most people have my opinion and they were just maybe scared to speak out."
The two exchanged a very brief handshake following the match. Bouchard added: "She said 'well played.' And I think she's been playing really well in her so-called comeback, if you want to call it that."
The 23-year-old will now play world number one Angelique Kerber in the third round in Madrid while Sharapova still has some work to do as a win over Bouchard would have placed her in the qualifying phase for Wimbledon, though she could still make the main draw at SW19 if she reaches the semi-final in Rome.
"I think I would be worried about myself if I sat here and said I'm pretty happy with losing a tennis match, no matter who I face, no matter what round it is, whether it's the first round or final of a Grand Slam," Sharapova explained after the match.
"I'm a big competitor. What you work for so many hours every single day is to be on the winning end of matches. Today was just not that day. Of course, I'm disappointed. That's what's going to make me a better player. That's what's going to win me more tournaments and more Grand Slams."