Bouchard into Wimbledon final, making history for Canada

AFP| Last Updated: Jul 03, 2014, 21:49 PM IST

London: Eugenie Bouchard became the first Canadian to reach a Grand Slam singles final on Thursday when she defeated Romania`s Simona Halep in the Wimbledon semi-finals.

The 20-year-old world number 13 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 Saturday`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 world rankings, the highest position ever achieved by a Canadian player.

Halep, the highest seed left in the draw after the shock defeats of Serena Williams and Li Na, suffered a nasty fall in the fifth game of the opening set when she jarred her left ankle into the bone-dry Centre Court.

Play was also held up in the first set tiebreak when a fan was overcome by the 30-degree 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 expect a tough challenge in the final. She will go in prepared.

"It`s going to be really cool. 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."

In front of a crowd which included Oscar winning actors, Colin Firth and Maggie Smith, it was Halep who broke first for 2-1 before Bouchard, playing in her third Grand Slam 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 on the hottest day of the year in London.

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 Bouchard saw a match point swallowed up by an ace which stood despite her having stopped when a fan screamed out from the crowd.

A few nervy moments followed as five match points came and went but victory was secured when a tiring Halep, playing for the third time in three days, netted a service return.