Wimbledon Final Pits ‘Princess’ Bouchard Versus Ex-Champ Kvitova

Eugenie Bouchard made tennis history at Wimbledon yesterday, and she’s not done yet.

The 20-year-old is the first Canadian to reach a Grand Slam singles final. Her muted celebration showed she has her mind set on the biggest prize of all.

“I never say I’m surprised,” the 13th-seeded Bouchard told reporters after beating third-seeded Simona Halep of Romania 7-6 (7-5), 6-2 in her third straight major semifinal. “It’s been years in the making.”

Two years after winning the junior title at the All England Club, Bouchard plays 2011 winner Petra Kvitova for the Wimbledon title tomorrow.

“I expect good results like this,” Bouchard said. “It’s a step in the right direction. I get to play in the final. I still have another match, so it’s not a full celebration yet.”

Earlier in the day, Kvitova defeated fellow Czech Lucie Safarova 7-6 (8-6), 6-1 to move to her second Wimbledon final.

“I find her as a very solid and talented player,” Kvitova, 24, said of her next opponent, whom she beat 6-3, 6-2 in their only previous match last year on a hard court in Toronto. “She really seems that she is confident in her game right now. She’s moving very well. She’s playing aggressively from nearby the baseline.”

In today’s men’s semifinals, Milos Raonic also will seek to rewrite Canadian tennis history by making the final as he plays seven-time champion Roger Federer of Switzerland. Top seed Novak Djokovic of Serbia plays Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov.

Bouchard kept cool despite going down a break in the first set and needing six match points to win on the hottest day of the championships, as temperatures rose as high as 26 degrees Celsius (79 Fahrenheit).

Two Interruptions

Her match against Halep, who pushed eventual winner Maria Sharapova to three sets in the French Open final last month, was interrupted twice. After the 22-year-old Romanian had her ankle taped when she rolled it at 2-2 in the first set, a spectator got ill as Bouchard trailed 3-2 in the tiebreaker.

“I’m able to not worry about the distractions, especially when it’s out of my control,” Bouchard said. “Like someone in the crowd not feeling well is definitely out of my control. It happens once in a while. What I do well is I really don’t let it get to me or affect me.”

Bouchard decided she wanted to become a tennis pro while watching Sharapova win her first major title at Wimbledon a decade ago. Since winning the junior Wimbledon title, Bouchard has shot up the rankings of the women’s tour, from 302nd at the end of 2011 to No. 13 this week.

Red Kimono

At Wimbledon, Bouchard made headlines in the U.K. media last week when she went to a post-match news conference dressed in a red kimono she’d been given by a Japanese television crew. After ending the run of France’s Alize Cornet, who had upset five-time champion Serena Williams in the third round, Bouchard told reporters she “can be a princess.”

“I can be moody in the morning and my fitness trainer carries my tennis bag around,” she said. “But that’s so I don’t get tired because I want to save all my energy for the match.”

Bouchard made her first major semifinal at the Australian Open in Melbourne at the start of the year. She pushed her idol, Sharapova, to three sets in the semifinals of Roland Garros last month.

Kvitova, who easily defeated Sharapova in her first major final three years ago at Wimbledon, said much will depend tomorrow on how she serves.

Ace Leader

Kvitova, the ace leader in the women’s draw with 38, said she’ll try to play “aggressively, going to everything for the winners and just keep my serve, of course, and waiting for some chance.”

Bouchard said she’ll be prepared for Kvitova.

“She obviously likes the grass and has some good weapons, so I will be ready for those,” she said. “I’m waiting for a big moment to go nuts. Of course, achieving a lifelong dream like winning a slam is very exciting to me.”

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