Eugenie Bouchard is the first Canadian to reach a Grand Slam semifinal in 30 years after a stunning upset of Ana Ivanovic at the Australian Open.
Bouchard's final-four spot is the first for a Canadian in Melbourne. The 19-year-old did it in just under two and a half hours. "We had a tough match, she was playing well at times," said Bouchard. "When she did there was not much I could do. I kept fighting, played aggressive and stepped it up in the second and third sets. The most important thing is to enjoy it out there and that's what I've been doing. I tried to stay calm and go for my short, that's when I play my best."
Bouchard will play next against China's Li Na, the fourth seed, after the former French Open champion defeated Italy's Flavia Pennetta 6-2, 6-2. "I played (Na) in Montreal in 2012, we had a tough battle but I was not so experienced back then," said Bouchard. "This time I'll be ready. She won't give me many chances so I'll have to take any that I get."
Tennis player Eugenie Bouchard has become the 1st Canadian to make it to a grand slam semi-final in 30 years.
While many are surprised by just how quickly her success has come, Bouchard said she tried to act as if she has “been there before” on the biggest stages of the sport.
“I do try to walk around like I belong there, and play like I belong, and every time I walk on the court I believe I can win,” she said. “I think that’s really important, to have that self-confidence. Off the court, I think I’m not cocky, I’m pretty humble, and I don’t want to act like I’ve been there when I haven’t. But when little things come, like winning some matches at Slams, I just try to take it in stride. Because I expect a lot from myself. So when it does happen, it’s like O.K., I knew I could do this, and now let’s go to the next thing.”
Although Bouchard seems to have inspired more than a few crushes among many of the fans supporting her here in Australia, she is more comfortable answering questions about her tactics and strategy than the minutiae of her personal life. Asked whose interviews she most enjoys watching, Bouchard pointed to the top of two sports.
“I like watching Tiger Woods talk after he wins a tournament, or obviously in tennis I love Roger. So I always say Roger for everything,” she said, referring to Roger Federer, who will take on Andy Murray in quarterfinals Wednesday.
Eugenie Bouchard gets up close and personal with two wombats.
Eugenie Bouchard's agent believes the new golden girl of tennis can surpass Maria Sharapova as arguably the most marketable female athlete on the planet. The 19-year-old Canadian has turned heads during her Australian Open campaign, winning the hearts of the public and respect from the tennis fraternity in an inspiring run to the grand slam's semi-finals. Her agent Sam Duvall, who has worked with Bouchard since she was 13, believes the teenager has the potential to become the face of the sport.
''Marketability-wise, I think she can be the most famous tennis player in the world,'' Duvall said. ''She's got the personality, she's got the game, she's got the looks. She speaks two languages [French and English] and the crossover appeal is great. Aussie fans love her, French fans love her … I think she is very rare, let's put it that way.''
''I really think she has the ability to be more marketable than Maria [Sharapova]. She speaks the two languages where the four grand slams are played. Maria was Genie's idol when she was younger but now they're competitors. But if Maria is the bar, Genie has the ability to exceed that bar. She has to perform on the court to do that, and Genie knows that. Maria has won four slams. Her marketability, if she [Bouchard] performs, I have to say is better than anyone on tour. She is the total package. It's unbelievable how focused this girl is.''
''We've gotten some requests for initial talks with some watch companies and things like that,'' Duvall said. ''We're in talks with banks and there's also some stuff back home. I don't know how big of a rush we're going to have because this is not it for her. She has got some good deals in Canada already, but now it's a strategy of when we start to knock out a couple of global deals.''
''But everything is going to be predicated by her tennis. She knows that. She's in a good spot. She's one that understands that the better she plays tennis, the more money and the more marketable and the more famous she's going to be. But it's all centred around the tennis. I don't know if it was like that with Anna Kournikova in the '90s. She was obviously very marketable but never won a WTA title.''
Canadian teen Eugenie Bouchard on Thursday said she was destined for the top echelons of the game after announcing her arrival on the world stage, as her agent hailed her as the new Maria Sharapova.
The 19-year-old, known as Genie, has turned heads and won plaudits from the tennis community with her eye-catching run to the Australian Open semi-finals. She had also won the hearts of fans with her confident personality and clean-cut good looks, with many predicting a big future ahead.
@geniebouchard Thank you all for your support. I'm here with my emu. Special thanks to #GenieArmy
She had also won the hearts of fans with her confident personality and clean-cut good looks, with many predicting a big future ahead.
"I'm proud of how I've improved as a player throughout the tournament. But I'm never satisfied with losing. I'm always disappointed," she said, after losing to China's Li Na in straight sets. "You know, I always want to go further and do better." Bouchard, the WTA newcomer of the year in 2013, had a horror start to her first Grand Slam semi-final, losing her first three service games to love, before the nerves settled and she got into the match.
"I was kind of just letting her do all these winners side to side. It wasn't really my game," she said. "I just tried to get into the rallies more, try to step in a little bit more, and try to put more pressure on her because she was just putting a lot of pressure on me."
For Bouchard, the success in Melbourne comes as no surprise. She says she has been working towards it since she was a child, but knows winning a Grand Slam is what will really launch her into the big time.
"Yeah, I think that's the biggest thing to me, is winning a Grand Slam," she said. "The four best tournaments of the year. I feel like I made good progress this week, a big step getting close to that goal I'm not there yet, so I have a lot of work to do. She added: "I feel like I belong in the top levels of the game. I walk away with confidence."
Despite the loss, Bouchard is forecast to break into the world's top 20 when the new rankings are released on Monday.