July 3, 2014
Eugenie Bouchard has reached the Wimbledon final at the tender age of twenty.
And suddenly the whole world seems to adore the pretty girl they call “Genie.” Her fans, known as “The Genie Army,” are growing in numbers by the minute – and she could easily become the first Canadian to win Wimbledon. The woman standing in her way is the intimidating Petra Kvitova, who knows just what it’s like to lift the most prized Grand Slam trophy of them all.
Kvitova is the bookies’ favourite. Yet Bouchard has the all-round game to beat her if the younger woman doesn’t let the occasion get the better of her.
True, Kvitova beat Bouchard in Toronto earlier this year. But Bouchard has become a far greater force this summer – and her momentum seems unstoppable.
Simona Halep, the world number three, found out what it was like to go in as favourite against Bouchard. She didn’t like what happened when the Genie came out of the bottle.
Bouchard won a nail-biting first set 7-6, though the tie-break was interrupted when a lady was taken ill in the crowd. Earlier Halep had taken time out to nurse her injured ankle, though she seemed to remain mobile enough to fight her corner in the rallies. Genie turned on the power towards the end of the breaker to emerge the 7-5 victor.
Halep wasn’t finished and began the second set well. But Bouchard grew in confidence and the Romanian crumbled in the third game.
After that, Genie could see the finishing tape and we waited to see whether she would tighten.
She didn’t until she reached match point. Genie closed out the match 6-2, despite squandering five match points. Now Genie, Wimbledon junior champion two years ago, stands on the brink of history.
She is sure to be the darling of Wimbledon when the finalists walk out for Saturday’s showdown on Centre Court. Bouchard said of the tense finish to the semi-final: ‘It was a little crazy. I’ve never ended a match like that but it’s my first Grand Slam final and I’m going to go for it. I always want more. I’m not going to leave anything out there. That match point situation took a little mental strength. But I love tough moments and challenges.’
Earlier the power of Petra Kvitova proved too much for Lucie Safarova in the first semi-final.
Booming returns from the 2011 Wimbledon champion were the key during the first-set tie-break. They helped Kvitova overcome a strong challenge from Safarova to prevail 8-6 in the warm sunshine.
Kvitova broke in the second game of the second set to race to a 3-0 lead and never looked back. In 2011, the legendary Billie Jean King told us that Kvitova was ‘the future queen of tennis.’ That was a heavy piece of pressure to place on those broad shoulders. And since then Kvitova has only rarely lived up to that billing.
But Petra now has the opportunity to turn herself into a Wimbledon queen once more. She is a towering presence and the physical fight will be fascinating.
Want to see which fiercely competitive woman will be crowned queen of Wimbledon? Call us for tickets