Eugenie Bouchard defeated French Open runner-up Simona Halep 7-6 (5), 6-2 Thursday to become the first Canadian to advance to a Grand Slam tournament final.
The 20-year-old Bouchard, who has not dropped a set in six matches, won on her sixth match point and will play 2011 Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, who beat fellow Czech left-hander Lucie Safarova 7-6 (6), 6-1.
Bouchard lost in the semifinals at the year’s two previous majors, the Australian Open and French Open.
She’s projected to rise to No. 7 – the highest ranking for a Canadian woman – by reaching Saturday’s final and would go to No. 6 by winning the championship. Bouchard would also be the youngest Grand Slam champion since 19-year-old Maria Sharapova won the 2006 U.S. Open.
“I’ve put in a lot of hard work and it’s been kind of years in the making to me,” Bouchard said. “So I believe in myself and I expect good results. I’ve had a good start to the season, but I expect myself to do even better than that.”
In a semifinal that was delayed twice in the first set – first by a left ankle injury to Halep, and then when a woman spectator fell ill during the tiebreaker – Halep double-faulted on break point in the second set and then was broken again by Bouchard to give the Canadian a 4-1 lead.
No. 3-seeded Halep, who saved three match points in the seventh game and two more in the final game, appeared to be increasingly affected by her ankle injury and looked down at her feet several times after hitting shots.
“It was difficult to continue … I felt a big pain in the moment, but then was better with the tape,” Halep said. “But, still, I couldn’t push anymore with my leg. My first serve was really bad after that.”
On Bouchard’s first match point, Halep hit an ace, but Bouchard did not appear ready to receive, and she went to speak with chair umpire Kader Nouni. But the point stood and Bouchard failed to clinch the match.
“When Simona tossed I heard someone scream in the crowd,” Bouchard said. “It had happened a few times already. This time I didn’t feel prepared to return, so I put my hand up. I felt like we should have replayed the point, but he said, no, it was her point. Just happy I kept my focus and didn’t get distracted.”
The tiebreaker was delayed briefly when the female spectator became ill. With Halep leading 3-2, Nouni jumped from his chair to alert security officials to the woman’s illness and told both players to go to their sideline chairs.
Temperatures on Centre Court were 77 F (25 C) under sunny skies.
Following a delay of four minutes and after the woman was escorted from Centre Court continued…
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