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Bouchard in first grand slam semi with win over Ivanovic

The Canadian Press

1/21/2014 9:32:18 AM

MELBOURNE, Australia -- Eugenie Bouchard is the first Canadian to reach a Grand Slam singles semifinal in 30 years after a stunning upset of Ana Ivanovic at the Australian Open.

Bouchard, the 30th seed, overcame Ivanovic 5-7, 7-5, 6-2 on Tuesday, making the Montreal native just the second Canadian to ever compete in a Grand Slam singles semi.

Catch an encore presentation of Bouchard's quarterfinal victory on TSN, today at 2:30pm et/11:30am pt.

The last Canadian to go to the semifinals in singles play at a major was Toronto's Carling Bassett at the 1984 U.S. Open.

Bouchard's final-four spot is also 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.

"This is not a huge surprise to me I always believe in my skills. That's something I've been working a long time for. It's not really sudden or anything like that. I just want to keep going."

Bouchard will play next against China's Li Na, the fourth seed, on Thursday after the former French Open champion defeated Italy's Flavia Pennetta 6-2, 6-2.

"I played (Li) 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."

Bouchard's ranking should rise into the top 20 as a result of her success, according to WTA calculations. She also beat Ivanovic, a former world No. 1 from Serbia, last year in the second round of Wimbledon.

Bouchard stayed calm under pressure from an opponent who won the 2008 French Open but was treated repeatedly for thigh injuries, ending with seven breaks of serve and 47 winners.

"Even if I had won in straight-sets today, I would still have confidence. No matter what's going to happen, I'm just going to try my best. Even if I'm down, I always fight."

Ivanovic was impressed with her opponent.

"In the third set she really was strong and played the big points well," said Ivanovic. "She was aggressive, pushing me back, instead of me stepping in.

"That's where I felt the match was turning. She's definitely brave. She's young, she has nothing to lose. I think she's a very great player with a bright future."

Bouchard made a charging start with a love game and saved a pair of break points in the third game for 2-1. But she lost her way in the seventh game to begin what turned into a run of five consecutive breaks.

From 5-5 when she saved two break points Bouchard lost 8-of-9 points, six through unforced errors.

The experienced Ivanovic broke for 6-5 and finally claimed the set after 47 minutes on her fourth chance, with Bouchard saving a third set-winner on an Ivanovic error before netting a backhand.

In the second set, Bouchard kept calm as she began to make up ground, taking a 3-1 lead on a break. But Ivanovic showed her own fight in a 10-minute seventh game, which she won to break back 4-5 after six deuces.

Ivanovic was then taken off court by a trainer for treatment on a thigh, with Bouchard forced to wait for more than seven minutes.

As she waited, Bouchard's approximately dozen-strong, Aussie-born "Genie Army" chanted. They've presented her with a new stuffed animal doll after each match.

"I tried to for sure show I was calm, I did feel confident," said Bouchard, who was playing a Grand Slam main draw for only the fourth time and is making her debut in Melbourne. "Having lost the first set, I just tried to focus on what I had to do during the point to try to win.

"It was really just try to keep pressing her and moving forward. I felt like my game got a bit better as the match went on."

Bouchard came straight back when play resumed, breaking Ivanovic to love with a winner to the corner but again failed to hold the break, with Ivanovic coming back for 4-5 and serving to five-all.

Bouchard levelled at a set each as Ivanovic double-faulted twice in the final game to hand over a 7-5 result.

Bouchard began the third set with another double and went down a break 1-3, then reached 5-2 as she sent Ivanovic chasing helpless to the far corner of the court in pursuit of a winner.

She closed out victory with a forehand winner to the corner for a seventh break of serve.