Every time I see Eugenie Bouchard, it seems as though she’s become a better tennis player. The 20-year old Canadian phenom that has run through six matches at Wimbledon 2014 without losing a set is a better version of Genie than the one that made the semifinals at Roland Garros and most definitely the one that reached the semifinals at the Australian Open. This Bouchard would easily beat the Bouchard from Melbourne. Whether the Wimbledon version of Genie is enough to beat Petra Kvitova on Saturday…we shall see. But in the semifinals, Genie was plenty good enough to handle world #3 Simona Halep. Yes, Halep rolled her ankle and maybe that had an effect. But take nothing away from Bouchard. I have no doubt that this would have been her day regardless. Perhaps if the first set had gone to Simona, things might have played out differently. But it didn’t. It was tight. It went to a tiebreak. In the end, Bouchard had just enough to pull it out at 7-5 in the breaker. After that, it seemed as if Halep kind of fell off mentally. She tried. She didn’t give up. But she just didn’t appear to have the focus she needed to come back against arguably one of the strongest willed players on tour. After a tough first set, it was over quickly with Genie emerging victorious, 7-6 (5) 6-2. She is the first ever Major finalist from Canada. Bouchard was the 2012 Wimbledon Girls Champion. Will she be the 2014 Wimbledon Ladies’ Singles Champion?
Whether Genie wins her first Major on Saturday largely depends on what Petra Kvitova shows up. As well as she has played in the Championships, Petra has an even higher gear she can hit. If she comes out in the final and is on her A game then expect things to be tough for Bouchard. There might not be a more talented player than Kvitova when she’s hitting on all cylinders. However, she cannot go on any extended mental lapses, as she is sometimes prone to do. Genie is mentally tough. If Petra lets Bouchard gain any confidence, it could prove to be the young Canadian’s day. If Kvitova comes out with any nerves or shaky play early, expect Genie to pounce on her and make her pay. Kvitova was strong against fellow Czech Lucie Safarova in the semis. However, for a lot of the first set, even with Petra breaking in the first game of the match, I thought Lucie was playing better tennis (Lucie broke back in the fourth game of the set). Petra just had what she needed on big points in the first set tiebreak. Much like the Bouchard-Halep match, after a tough first set it was a walk in the second for the winner, Petra Kvitova, 7-6 (6) 6-1. Will there be a first time Major winner on Saturday or a two-time Major winner?
6 PETRA KVITOVA (won 7-6 (6) 6-1 vs 23 Lucie Safarova)
13 EUGENIE BOUCHARD (won 7-6 (5) 6-2 vs 3 Simona Halep)