MONTREAL — Eugenie Bouchard says she just wants to play some matches and enjoy being part of a team again.
Canada's Fed Cup team hopes she can also rediscover at least some of the form that propelled her to the 2014 Wimbledon final and a fifth-place world ranking.
The Canadian squad will be under pressure to defeat favoured Ukraine when the countries meet Saturday and Sunday on the indoor hardcourt at IGA Stadium in a best-of-five World Group II playoff series. The winner stays in World Group II next year while the loser drops to zonal play.
Bouchard, of Westmount, Que., has plunged to 117th in the world after a run of disappointing seasons in which she has sometimes appeared to be more interested in off-court activities than in tennis. She is 4-6 in WTA singles play this year.
"I'm trying to work," Bouchard said Friday as the teams took part in the draw of opponents at a downtown hotel. "You can't always make finals of grand slams every single year, so you've got to keep working until it clicks again. That's where I'm at."
Bouchard will face veteran Kateryna Bondarenko in the second singles match on Saturday after Francoise Abanda of Montreal opens against Lesia Tsurenko. They will swap singles opponents on Sunday, while Gabriela Dabrowski of Ottawa and Bianca Andreescu of Mississauga, Ont., will play doubles if a fifth and deciding match is needed.
This time, at least, Bouchard shook hands with Bondarenko, which she famously refused to do twice before with opponents at Fed Cup draws.
Bouchard is 1-1 in her career against 31-year-old Bondarenko and 0-1 against Tsurenko. It will be a first meeting with either Ukrainian for Abanda.
"I've had really tough matches with both, actually, over the years," said Bouchard. "I know they're feisty players.
"They're going to fight. It's indoors so, especially against Bondarenko, I think she likes that. As do I. So it's something I have to be ready for. We don't know what's going to happen but I'll try my best, as I know all the girls on the team will, and hopefully we'll have fun and come out with a win."
Ukraine is without its top player, fourth-ranked Elina Svitolina, but is still ranked higher in singles, with Tsurina at 41st and Bondarenko 78th. Ukraine brought only three players, including doubles specialist Olga Savchuk.
"It's a tough team," said Canadian Fed Cup captain Sylvain Bruneau. "We keep saying Svitolina is missing but they're very tough competitors.
"Tsurenko is very experienced. When we played five years ago she played for her country, so she's been around and she's had some good results. Both are very aggressive. They hit the ball cleanly and it's going to be important not to let them push us around and take command."
Bouchard was part of a Canadian squad that beat Ukraine 3-2 in 2013 to advance to World Group II. She won both of her singles against Slovakia to lift Canada to the top level, World Group I, the following year. Then the team fell back after losing to the Czech Republic and Romania.
It was Abanda, Andreescu and Dabrowski who got Canada out of the Americas zone, but after a loss to Romania earlier this year, the squad risks dropping back again if they don't beat Ukraine.
In the same situation on the same court a year ago, Abanda won both of her singles matches to lift Canada over Kazakhstan.
"I didn't play that many matches this year so it's a good opportunity to play matches at home," said Abanda. "It'll be a good atmosphere being at home and having the whole Canadian team support."