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Eugenie Bouchard's lawsuit against USTA could go to trial, lawyer says

Eugenie Bouchard's lawsuit against the USTA could be headed for a jury trial as the first anniversary of the accident that forced her out of the US Open last year approaches.

The process has been as slow-moving as Bouchard's effort to rebuild her singles ranking.

"They [USTA officials] were stalling. Now we're ready to move." Benedict Morelli, Bouchard's lawyer, told ESPN.

Chris Widmaier, managing director of corporate communications for the USTA, replied to ESPN's request for a response with an email.

"Her lawyers asked for an extension," Widmaier said. "The USTA on the other hand, has remained ready, willing and able to bring the litigation to a conclusion as expeditiously as is possible whether through settlement discussions or a fully litigated process."

There has been some communication between the two sides.

"They have indicated that they wanted to settle," Morelli said. "We didn't talk specific-specific, but let's just say their side of the conversation was unrealistic."

Bouchard, once ranked as high as No. 5, was working to emerge from a deep slump when she slipped and fell in the empty, dark physiotherapy room after sitting for a late-evening news conference after a mixed doubles win on Sept. 4, 2015. Cleaners had already swabbed down the floor with what her subsequent suit described as a "slippery, foreign and dangerous substance."

Bouchard suffered a concussion and was forced to withdraw from the tournament even though she was still in contention in three events: singles (she had won her third-round match that morning), doubles and mixed doubles.

She returned to the tour at the China Open at the beginning of October, but retired complaining of concussion-related "dizziness" during her first-round match while trailing Andrea Petkovic, 6-2, 1-1. It was her last match of the year.

Bouchard, now 22, was ranked No. 7 at the start of 2015, following a year in which she reached her highest ranking and two major semifinals and the Wimbledon final. But her game began to slip in the spring, and she would never recapture her commanding form with any consistency after falling out of the top 10 in June of 2015. By the time she fell at the US Open, she was down to No. 25.

Starting fresh this year at No. 49, her ranking declined to a low of No. 61 in late February before it began a gradual rise to its present No. 40. Bouchard has played 50 matches in 2016 and has retired from just one match (with an injury unrelated to her fall). In May, she reunited with her coach at her peak, Nick Saviano.

Morelli said he plans to begin taking depositions in advance of a trial shortly after the US Open. He accused the USTA of trying to escape its obligations "on the cheap."

"It's interesting that they don't want to take care of their own," Morelli said. "This is someone who's made them a lot of money."

"We value all of the players," Widmaier told ESPN. "We granted Eugenie Bouchard a wild card into the Cincinnati tournament, which is the most important tune-up tournament for the US Open, just so she can be fully prepared for this year's event."