French Open: Eugenie Bouchard sets up semis showdown with Maria Sharapova
Paris: Eugenie Bouchard became the first Canadian woman to reach the French Open semi-finals on Tuesday with a thrilling 7-6 (7/4), 2-6, 7-5 win over Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro.
It is only the third time that a Canadian has made the women's semi-finals at any of the four majors after Carling Bassett reached the US Open semi-finals in 1984 and Bouchard herself went to the last-four at this year's Australian Open.
Canada's Eugenie Bouchard celebrates after winning her quarterfinal match against Spain's Carla Suarez Navarro at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris on Tuesday. Pic/AFP
The media-friendly Bouchard, who trailed badly in all three sets, has a chance to go one better now and will face Russia's 2012 French champion Maria Sharapova for a place in Saturday's final.
"I am just so happy right now, thanks to everyone, this is just completely unbelievable," Bouchard told a raucous crowd, many with Canadian flags on court Suzanne Lenglen.
"I'm so happy to spend a few more days in Paris and look forward to the semi-final. It feels a bit like home here," said the bilingual right hander who won her first WTA tournament at Nuremberg on the eve of Roland Garros.
Bouchard showed experience well beyond her 20 years as she came back from 5-2 down in the first set to draw level at 5-5 after saving a set point.
Suarez Navarro carried a 2014 record of 9 and 1 in tie-breaks into the decisive game but the Canadian carved out a 4-1 lead before converting her first set point to take the all important opening frame 7-6 (7/4) in one hour.
The Montreal resident broke immediately to start the second set as Suarez Navarro wobbled under the deep ground strokes Bouchard was burying in the corners.
However the Barcelona-based player again forged ahead 5-2 in the second set and this time Bouchard was unable to fight back with the Spaniard converting her second set point to take it 6-2 and force a decider.
Suarez Navarro again began the stronger to start the third as the nerves and the occasion got to both players.
However, Bouchard again charged back from 4-1 down to level the match and then creep 5-4 in front.
The Spaniard held a tense service game but Bouchard went back ahead 6-5 as victory came within her grasp.
She double faulted on her first match point but converted her third chance before sinking to her knees in celebration.
Sharapova battles into fifth French Open semi-final
Maria Sharapova battled into her fourth successive French Open semi-final and fifth of her career with a 1-6, 7-5, 6-1 win over rising Spaniard Garbine Muguruza on Tuesday.
The seventh-seeded Russian, who was the 2012 champion and runner-up to Serena Williams last year, goes on to face Canada's Eugenie Bouchard for a place in Saturday's final.
Russia's Maria Sharapova celebrates her victory over Spain's Garbine Muguruza at the end of her quarterfinal match at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris on Tuesday. Pic/AFP
But the four-time major winner and former world number one was given an almighty fright by the 20-year-old Muguruza who had knocked out Williams in the second round.
The world number 35, playing in her first quarter-final at a major, was a set and 5-4 ahead in the second set before Sharapova dug deep into her famed reserves of fighting spirit to win through after 2hr 06min on court.
"There was little I could do in the first set as Garbine was playing so well," said Sharapova who had also dropped the first set of her fourth round tie against Samantha Stosur.
"I needed to pick up my energy and start moving my feet. It was tough losing the final last year and it has given me greater motivation to go one step further this time."
She later added: "We didn't have many long rallies. It was just two or three-ball rallies, and I was late.
"She was playing very aggressive and hitting shots very deep. I just didn't have much to say to that in the first set.
"But once I got the break (in the third game of the second set), I started feeling like I was in the match again."
Muguruza, who won her first title in Hobart this year, said she paid for her lack of experience at the highest level.
"It was very close. I had the opportunity to win the match. But I need more experience in these kind of matches," she said.
"I think I played very good in three sets, but in the important moments I need to improve my mentality."
Playing in her 21st Grand Slam quarter-final, Sharapova needed a win to retain her top 10 ranking.
But Muguruza showed no signs, racing into a 4-0 lead on the back of two breaks before a sluggish Sharapova opened her account.
The only time the confident Venezuela-born, Barcelona resident was under threat was when she fought off the only break point she faced in the sixth game.
Sharapova was made to pay for her failure to crack the 1.82m (6ft) Muguruza when the Spaniard broke for a third time in the seventh game to take the opener after just 27 minutes.
The Russian star was not helped by 13 unforced errors in the muggy conditions but Muguruza was worthy of her lead, finding the angles and the corners and not intimidated by having to volley at the net.
Sharapova, in desperation, even had to play one return with her left hand to stay in a rally.
Predictably, the 27-year-old eventually found her range, breaking for the first time in the second set for a 2-1 lead which could have been 4-1 had the Russian converted another break point in the fifth game.
But Sharapova double-faulted twice to hand the break back with the unflustered Spaniard consolidating for a 4-3 lead.
The Russian then stepped up the intensity and turned up the volume to break for a 6-5 lead and even the contest in the 12th game.
Sharapova then raced through the final set, fighting off four break points in a marathon 10-minute fourth game for a 4-1 lead on her way to sealing victory.
Muguruza ended with 52 unforced errors, half of which came in the third set. Sharapova finished with 40 errors but just five of those came in the one-sided decider.
Head-to-head record of Sharapova and Bouchard
Maria Sharapova (RUS x7) v Eugenie Bouchard (CAN x18)
Sharapova leads 2-0
2013 Miami R64 Hard Sharapova 6-2, 6-0
2013 French Open R64 Clay Sharapova 6-2, 6-4
Paths to the semi-final
1st rd: bt Ksenia Pervak (RUS) 6-1, 6-2
2nd rd: bt Tsvetana Pironkova (BUL) 7-5, 6-2
3rd rd: bt Paula Ormaechea (ARG) 6-0, 6-0
4th rd: bt Samantha Stosur (AUS x19) 3-6, 6-4, 6-0
QF: bt Garbine Muguruza (ESP) 1-6, 7-5, 6-1
1st rd: bt Shahar Peer (ISR) 6-0, 6-2
2nd rd: bt Julia Goerges (GER) 2-6, 6-2, 6-1
3rd rd: bt Johanna Larsson (SWE) 7-5, 6-4
4th rd: bt Angelique Kerber (GER x8) 6-1, 6-2
QF: bt Carla Suarez Navarro (ESP x14) 7-6 (7/4), 2-6, 7-5