Eugenie Bouchard overcomes jitters to reach Wimbledon final
The 20-year-old World No 13 pounds Romanian Simona Halep to become first Canadian woman to make a grand slam singles showdown
Eugenie Bouchard became the first Canadian to reach a grand slam singles final yesterday when she defeated Romania's Simona Halep in the Wimbledon semi-finals.
She will face 2011 champion Petra Kvitova, who beat her fellow Czech and close friend Lucie Safarova 7-6 (8/6), 6-1.
The 20-year-old world number 13, who is the top player coming to the Hong Kong Open in September, beat the third seed and French Open runner-up 7-6 (7/5), 6-2 and will take on Czech sixth seed Petra Kvitova, the 2011 champion, in tomorrow's final.
Tall, blonde Bouchard, a marketing dream for the women's game with her photogenic looks, athleticism and confident, positive demeanour, will also rise to number seven in the rankings, the highest position ever achieved by a Canadian player.
Halep, the highest seed left after shock defeats to Serena Williams and Li Na, suffered a nasty fall in the fifth game of the opening set, jarring her ankle.
Play was also held up in the first set tiebreak when a fan was overcome by the 30 degrees Celsius heat and had to be helped from the court.
But the distractions did not hinder Bouchard, who achieved her first win over a top-five player at the sixth attempt although she needed six match points to get the job done.
"It was hard at the end. It took a lot of mental strength to get through that," said Bouchard.
"It's my first grand slam final and probably my toughest match yet. I'm looking forward to the challenge. I never say I'm surprised because I put in a lot of hard work over the years. This has been a lot of years in the making.
"I'm glad I got to stay at Wimbledon for two whole weeks. I'm going to give it my best effort in the final."
It was Halep who broke first for 2-1 before Bouchard, playing in her third grand glam semi-final of the year, hit back for 2-2.
Halep then needed a medical time-out after a worrying slip on the dry, grassless baseline which caused her to turn her left ankle.
The Romanian held firm, fighting off a break point in the eighth game to take the first set into the tiebreaker, where play was halted again with Halep 3/2 to the good when a fan collapsed.
Bouchard, the junior champion in 2012, broke for a 2-1 lead in the second set courtesy of two double faults and secured a double break for 5-1.
There was a moment of tension in the seventh game when she saw a match point swallowed up by an ace, which stood despite her having stopped when a fan screamed out from the crowd.
Nervy moments followed as five match points came and went but victory was secured when Halep netted a service return.
Kvitova, who won her only grand slam title here three years ago, saw off 23rd seed Safarova with 24 winners and eight aces in 80 minutes on Centre Court.
"It was a tough match mentally because she is good friend," said Kvitova. "I knew she would play her best tennis and she did. Happily I won."