Bouchard Into First Grand Slam Final
Published July 03, 2014 12:14
Billed as a battle between two of the next generation's brightest stars, Thursday's second semifinal on Centre Court pitted recent French Open runner-up Halep against the ever-improving Bouchard. Two years ago, Bouchard lifted the junior title at the All-England Club and she has not been shy in expressing her desire to add the senior version to her trophy cabinet sooner rather than later.
The Turning Point
Halep made the brighter start, breaking in the third game. However, she was not in the ascendency for long, a couple of brilliant returns getting the Canadian back on level terms immediately. In the next game, Halep twisted her ankle as she scurried to track down a Bouchard backhand behind the baseline, forcing her to take a 12 minute medical timeout.
On the resumption, Bouchard piled on the pressure, pulling Halep all around the court to test the extent of the injury. The Romanian passed the examination, making it to a tie-break, which opened with five mini-breaks before another interruption as a spectator in the crowd fell ill.
Following a short break, Halep extended her lead to 4-2. On the next point, Bouchard struck the top of the tape only for the ball to land on Halep's side to hand back the mini-break. She made the most of this moment of good fortune, unleashing a barrage of forehands to bring up a couple of set points. Halep saved the first thanks to a brilliant running forehand, but she could do nothing on the second as Bouchard swooped in for a drive volley winner.
There was no let-up at the start of the second set, a couple of double faults from Halep helping Bouchard break for a 2-1 lead. In the blink of an eye she stretched her advantage to 5-1, and despite some late resistance she was not to be denied, booking her place in the final with a big serve out wide.
"It was a little crazy - I've never really ended a match like that," Bouchard said. "I'm just happy I kept my focus and didn't get distracted or anything and played well in the last game.
"I'm not surprised to be in the final, because I've put in a lot of hard work and it's been years in the making. I believe in myself and I expect good results and I always want more. I've had a good start to the season, but I expect myself to do even better than that and that's what I'm going to try and do."
In the final, Bouchard will face 2011 champion Petra Kvitova, who was too strong for Lucie Safarova. Their only previous meeting came last summer in Toronto, where Kvitova prevailed in straight sets.
"I'm really excited. I have a day off tomorrow and I can't wait to play," she added. "It's my first Grand Slam final so I'm just going to go for it. I'll probably have my toughest match yet and I'm looking forward to the challenge.
"She'll go in prepared and I'll be prepared as well - my coach will definitely watch her play and give me some tips. I'm just going to go out there and play my game. I think I can play even better than today. I want to leave it all on court and we'll see what happens."