And we'll never be royals.
It don't run in our blood.
That kind of luxe just ain't for us.
We crave a different kind of buzz.
-- From "Royals," by Lorde
NEW YORK -- Maybe Julie Bouchard, the royals-obsessed Canadian mom, saw this coming.
Twenty years ago in Montreal, she named her twin daughters after Prince Andrew's daughters, Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice of York. Earlier this summer, Eugenie nearly joined the kings and queens of tennis, but lost to Petra Kvitova in the finals at Wimbledon.
Andy Murray, of course, is already there. He won a gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics, the US Open later that season and last year became the first British man in 77 years to win the Wimbledon crown. This feat alone seems likely to lead to a knighthood. Sir Andy Murray ... has a nice ring to it.
The USTA folks, perhaps playing on this royalty connection (perhaps not), made Murray and Bouchard the centerpieces of their Thursday night card. They've both obtained great heights but are currently struggling to maintain their mojo. That was especially apparent for Bouchard, who labored for three sets before squeezing by Sorana Cirstea 6-2, 6-7 (4), 6-4. Murray, for his part, made things easier for himself with a straight-sets win against Germany's Matthias Bachinger to reach the third round.
The odd pairing prompted our Baseline Buzz crew (not named for the last line in that Lorde chorus), ESPN.com tennis editor Matt Wilansky and senior writer Greg Garber, to investigate the numerous connections between Murray and Bouchard.
But first, a little more Lorde, which, going forward, would make a suitable mantra for Bouchard:
Let me be your ruler.
You can call me queen bee.
And baby I'll rule, I'll rule, I'll rule, I'll rule.
Let me live that fantasy.
Matt Wilansky: Don't tell anyone, but I actually took a 20-minute tennis respite today to read Don Van Natta Jr.'s terrific story on Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. The man has everything he could ever want -- money, fame, power. But despite all his fortunes, Jones doesn't have the one thing he aches for -- another Super Bowl title. Stick with me, but I was actually thinking of Genie Bouchard when I read this. She is supremely talented, charming, elegant and attractive. She is, in no uncertain terms, the total package, except she doesn't have a coveted major championship, and she wants one. Bouchard came so close, as you mentioned. I, for one, believe she has the aptitude and drive to win multiple majors. It's just a matter of when.
Greg Garber: Busted. That's going into the performance review. It's a well-worn statistic by now, but worth rolling out again: Bouchard is the only woman -- or man -- to reach the semifinals of all three of this year's majors. She is an uber-aggressive player, who at the age of 20 has an enormous upside. If you're looking for some insight, read Louisa Thomas' excellent profile that recently appeared on Grantland. The thing that strikes me with respect to Murray is the difference in their styles. Murray was a centrist, who repeatedly sent the ball back into the middle of the court. It was coach Ivan Lendl who finally convinced him to start going for the lines.
Matt Wilansky: It's clear Murray now plays with a sense of freedom, which is great, but unfortunately, he has been set back by various ailments. He had minor back surgery at the end of last season, and just a couple of days ago in his opener here, Murray was physically compromised with severe cramping. So that's the first thing he needs to get over. But I'm wondering how many more major titles he'd have if he adopted Bouchard's aggressive mindset early on in his career. It took Murray 28 attempts before he finally flourished here in Flushing. Granted, he reached four finals, but still, a painful wait.
Greg Garber: There's another piece to this Murray puzzle, too. He hasn't won a title since his spectacular Wimbledon victory -- and I think the two things are connected. Sure, he has had a balky back, but I think the trouble is in his head. When I asked him about this after his first-round match, he basically said he was playing decently. But when you are a two-time Grand Slam champion, that's not enough. Courtesy of Alex Kennison of ESPN's research staff, here are the records of the Big Four against the top 10 since last year's Wimbledon: Novak Djokovic (23-6), Rafael Nadal (18-8), Roger Federer (15-9) and Murray, at 0-7. Murray is 0-for-5 against the rest of the Big Four.
Matt Wilansky: But even more disconcerting are his lost opportunities. At Doha earlier this year, Murray led Florian Mayer 6-3, 3-0 and lost; at Indian Wells he was up a break in the third and final set against Milos Raonic and folded and during the summer Masters swing, Murray squandered significant leads against Jo-Willy Tsonga and Federer, respectively. So, yeah, there is something mental going on, which is where I thought Lendl really helped him. Tennis is a game packed with emotional and physical stress, and by and large, success comes in waves. This is my fear for Bouchard right now. After making a beeline to the game's grandest stage at Wimbledon, she hasn't coped well, which goes that behind her steely exterior is a player who, like Murray, is not immune to extended stretches of shoddy play.
Greg Garber: Murray was playing a qualifier Thursday night, Matthias Bachinger, who is ranked No. 235 in the world, so we can't draw many conclusions from the victory. But, it's worth noting that the cramps that visited Murray in his first-round match did not make an appearance again. Going forward, that's good news for Murray fans. Bouchard, on the other hand, had a more formidable adversary, Sorana Cirstea, who beat Sara Errani earlier this year and took Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova to a third-set tiebreaker in Madrid.
Matt Wilansky: It feels like Cirstea had been around forever, but she's still only 24 years old. The match felt like a runaway at first, with Bouchard overwhelming her Romanian opponent with an array of penetrating groundstrokes. The conditions got a little tastier, though, as did Cirstea's game. Bouchard eventually prevailed, but certainly not the way she wanted to. As they say in this game, the only thing that matters is winning the final point. Bouchard did. As did Murray. But given the body of work we've seen from both the past couple of months, they'll need more than close encounters with royalty if either plans on hoisting the champion's trophy.