Eugenie Bouchard reaches semis

ESPNAPI_IMG_NO_ALTEXT_Value

MELBOURNE, Australia -- Eugenie Bouchard has reached the semifinals in her first trip to the Australian Open, beating 2008 French Open champion Ana Ivanovic 7-5, 5-7, 6-2 on Tuesday to set up a showdown with fourth-seeded Li Na.

The result means two-time Australian Open finalist Li, who beat Flavia Pennetta 6-2, 6-2 in an earlier quarterfinal featuring two women who'll turn 32 next month, will have to face a teenager for the third time in the tournament.

The 19-year-old Bouchard, the first Canadian to reach the Australian Open semifinals, played with composure against former No. 1-ranked Ivanovic, who started the season with a title at Auckland, New Zealand, and produced a major upset to eliminate top-ranked Serena Williams in the fourth round here.

Bouchard went to the net 24 times and won 19 of those points. She broke Ivanovic's serve seven times, including the last game, and had to sit through a lengthy timeout when she was leading 4-3 in the second set while her opponent received treatment.

Despite the relative speed of her success, Bouchard said she didn't experience any "pinch me" moments.

"It's something I've been doing since I was 5 years old and working my whole life for and sacrificing a lot of things for, so it's not exactly a surprise," she said. "I always expect myself to do well. I'm just happy to have gone through this step. I'm not done."

The 5-foot-10 Bouchard, who hits big off both sides and has a confidence belying her youth, is coming off a breakthrough year that saw her rise from No. 144 in the rankings to No. 32, reach her first WTA Tour final at Osaka and earn recognition as the WTA Newcomer of the Year.

She is playing just her fourth Grand Slam tournament, having lost in the second rounds at the French Open and U.S. Open last year and reached the third round at Wimbledon -- the only previous major where she'd managed back-to-back victories. The second of those was against Ivanovic, in straight sets -- their only previous meeting.

"She's definitely brave. She's young. She has nothing to lose," Ivanovic said. "I think she's a very great player with a bright future."

Bouchard, who will turn 20 next month, is the first Canadian woman to reach a Grand Slam semifinal since Carling Bassett at the 1984 U.S. Open.

Naturally, Bouchard was asked what it's like to be such a rarity in a country so passionate about one particular sport: ice hockey.

"Well hopefully they'll care a little bit more about tennis now," she said, admitting she couldn't really skate. "But I think it's growing. I'm just trying to do the best I can for myself, for the country as well."

Bouchard, who is from Montreal, has a growing group of supporters at Melbourne Park nicknamed the "Genie Army.". After each match, fans have presented her with a different kind of stuffed, fluffy Australian animal -- she now has a kangaroo, a kookaburra, a koala and a wombat in her collection.

"I will create luggage space," she said of her new menagerie. "It's worth it to take my wombat home."

Page
  • 1
  • |
  • 2
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...