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Bouchard marches through to semi-finals at Kerber's expense

by Dan Imhoff
Wednesday 2 July 2014

The emotional and physical rollercoaster of beating Maria Sharapova in a two-hour 37-minute slugfest on Wednesday has taken its toll on German Angelique Kerber; the No.9 seed unable to back up the result, falling to 20-year-old Eugenie Bouchard in a straight-sets quarter-final dismissal.

Former girls’ champion Bouchard is through to her first Wimbledon semi-final and her third straight at a major with the 6-3, 6-4 victory and will meet Roland Garros finalist Simona Halep for a place in her first Grand Slam final.

“It’s a normal kind of evolution of things, as the great champions get older, the newer ones come in,” Bouchard said of she and Halep.

The No.13 seed stands just two wins from becoming the first former junior champion to go on and win the ladies’ singles title since Amelie Mauresmo completed the double in 1996, 10 years after her junior triumph.

For Bouchard, it would come just two years after her breakthrough.

“Winning the junior title was still, I think, to this day my proudest accomplishment in my career.  It really kind of propelled me into the pro circuit.  You know, I'm very proud of that,” Bouchard said of the 2012 triumph. “I mean, I played here last year. I won a match on Centre Court. I made the third round. Even last year I felt that I belonged, so I don't feel like it's a surprise that I'm doing even better this year.”

With an extra day’s rest and a smoother path to the quarter-finals, Bouchard looked fresher and more authoritative from the outset against a sluggish Kerber. The brick wall of defence and extraordinary leg strength the German had relied on to turn points around against Sharapova had dissipated somewhat on Wednesday.

The pivotal moment of the opening set came at 3-3, when Bouchard continued going for broke to stave off four break points on serve.

Blocking out the scoreline, she said, enabled her to produce such fearless shot-making throughout.

“When I try to go for it more usually it works in my favour, so I'm going to always try to do that every single point,” Bouchard said.

Serving for the match, the No.13 seed opened with a swinging backhand volley, and clocked a forehand winner into the open court, but a nervous double fault and an awkward backhand long were the first hint of nerves for the match.

She steadied to save two break points and brought up her first match point with a forehand down the line. Her place in the semi-finals was complete when Kerber rolled another forehand wide.

In the semi-finals Bouchard will meet the only other player to have reached the quarter-finals or better at the three majors so far in 2014. As of next week, she will also join Simona Halep in the top 10.

For the young Canadian, it is a shot at revenge having gone down to the 22-year-old earlier this year at Indian Wells.

“I learned a little bit about her game. I think she's playing really well. I think she can change direction really well on the court,” Bouchard said. “So I'm going to be ready for that. You know, really just try to go for it and take my chances; leave it all out on the court. It's the semis, so I'm going to expect the toughest match ever.”

Bouchard may be closing in on upstaging the proudest accomplishment in her career.

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