Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Wimbldeon: Eugenie Bouchard feels grand as she eyes up Wimbledon glory

Bouchard takes control in bid to become a major champion

Game over: Eugenie Bouchard on the way to reaching her third Grand Slam semi-final of the year
Game over: Eugenie Bouchard on the way to reaching her third Grand Slam semi-final of the year

Eugenie Bouchard was stopped in her tracks by royalty but remained unflustered on the courts at Wimbledon as the accomplished young Canadian reached her third Grand Slam semi-final of the year.

At the age of 20, Bouchard is a player who has already arrived as a star of the sport and is bidding to crown her emergence with a first senior Slam this week.

Given mother Julie named Bouchard and sister Beatrice after the British royal princesses, it would be apt were she to land her maiden major in London.

After a 6-3 6-4 win over Angelique Kerber, she looks to have every chance, although third seed Simona Halep will pose a tough obstacle today.

The only time that Bouchard froze yesterday was before the match, prior to heading over to Court One, when she and Kerber ran into the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

"It was funny, when we walked out of the members' locker room at five to one, all these security guards rushed over to us and were like, 'Nobody move. Move your bags to the side. There's some royals coming through'," she said.

"So we were just waiting, and then suddenly William and Kate walk by to go on Centre Court. I was a little bit in awe. That was my royal sighting of the day.

"We actually walked to our court late because Kate and William had to use that hallway. So it's funny how Wimbledon does it."

If that knocked Bouchard out of her stride, perhaps it was a cause for the match against Kerber beginning in a humdrum manner, with six holds of serve and little threat to the stalemate.

Bouchard saved four break points in game seven though, and made inroads at last on the Kerber serve in the next.

It was on her own fourth break point that Bouchard seized the moment, having set up the opportunity on the previous point by smiting a second serve dismissively across court on the backhand.

Kerber then netted, giving Bouchard a 5-3 lead, and the set soon followed.

Bouchard broke twice in the second set to lead 4-1, before unexpectedly allowing Kerber a foothold by playing a sloppy game. But it was just a single break, and Bouchard soon shut the door on the German, who had demolished Maria Sharapova's title hopes on Tuesday.

Kerber said: "I didn't really have time to recover after the match yesterday.

"I tried my best. She hit the balls on the line, so actually she played a great match."

Some players will talk down their prospects but Bouchard is not the sort. Her goal is obvious, and it is to be in Saturday's final, and carry off the Venus Rosewater Dish. Grand Slam finals have always been the target.

"I'm excited to be in the semis. But I'm never satisfied, so I definitely want to go a step further, or as far as I can," she said.

"When I was nine I decided to be a tennis player. So for me, being a tennis player is succeeding, top 20, top 10. As I started playing more, I really had concrete dreams of winning a Grand Slam.

"Every time I play I realise I can play at this level and play with these top girls."

Bouchard has triumphed in a Wimbledon final before, landing the girls' singles as recently as 2012.

"Winning the junior title is still my proudest accomplishment in my career," she said.

"I'm definitely happy to have some success at Wimbledon. I love this tournament."

Romanian Halep, the highest seed left in the draw, defeated 2013 finalist Sabine Lisicki 6-4 6-0.

"It wasn't as easy at it looked," she said.

"I had a slow start but then I came back well.

"I played my best and I enjoyed every moment being on Centre Court so I am happy I could win in two sets and prepare for the next match."

Czech pair Petra Kvitova and Lucie Safarova will meet in the other semi.

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