Bouchard makes history to set up Kvitova final
Eugenie Bouchard, Junior Wimbledon champion just two years ago, after she became the first Canadian player to reach a grand final slam final with a 7-6(5) 6-2 victory over third seed Simona Halep.
The victory set up a final on Saturday with Petra Kvitova, who did what no other player could manage in this tournament against Lucie Safarova as she stormed to a straight sets win on Centre Court.
Prior to this semi-final, played in front of a packed crowd sweltering in the SW19 heat, Safarova had not conceded a single set of tennis at this year's tournament. However, sixth seed Kvitova rallied with a commanding display to seal a 7-6(6) 6-1 triumph.
"It's great, it was a tough match mentally because Lucie is a great friend of mine. I am just happy that I won," Kvitova told the BBC. "I tried to be focussed from the start of the second set and I managed to break her service in the first game and just kept it going and I served well.
"I am just very emotional from this match but I have two days before the final to focus but I know how it feels to lift that trophy so I will try my best to do it again."
Kvitova sealed an early break in the first to give her the immediate advantage. Safarova, though, remained unfazed and promptly broke back next game to put the match back on serve.
Both settled after the frantic early exchange and neither player gave an inch to their opponent. Several well-placed winners from Kvitova were cancelled out by 11 unforced errors in the first set alone; at 6-6, the opener would be settled with a tie-break.
Like earlier in the set, Safarova did immensely well to force her way back into the breaker after conceding the mini-break. However, composure deserted her at the most inopportune of moments.
Safarova netted a return to gift her opponent match point and Kvitova did not pass it up. The Czech rifled her return with Safarova seemingly stuck on the Centre Court grass.
In truth, the loss of a set seemingly took the wind from Safarova's sails. Like Andy Murray just 24 hours beforehand, she did not win another.
Kvitova secured the early break in the second set and after that all seemed lost for her opponent. She held serve well under pressure to extend her lead to 4-1 before inflicting yet another break on Safarova, who by then had ran out of steam.
Kvitova worked her way to three match points, but she only needed one; Safarova's return off a second serve was too weak and the 2011 champion rightly punished it to book her spot in Saturday's final.
The first set between Bouchard and Halep was a drawn-out affair lasting precisely one hour thanks to two delays - first by a medical time-out when Halep appeared to turn her ankle early on and then again in the tie-break by a woman being taken ill in the crowd.
The second set was a much different story. Halep looked out of sorts from the off and found herself 5-1 down within 28 minutes. But the Romanian refused to give up and Bouchard, yet to drop a set in this tournament, was forced to wait until her sixth match point to take the victory.
"That was a little crazy," Bouchard said. "I've never really ended a match like that but just happy I kept my focus and I didn't get distracted.
"It took a little bit of mental strength there [on match points] to stay focused. I'm not going to give away my secrets but it's important for me to enjoy being out there and second of all just staying focused on what I need to do tactically for each point.
"It's tough work but it's what I love. I love tough challenges and working hard.
"I'm really excited. I have a day off tomorrow but I can't wait to play in my first grand slam final so I'm just going to go for it as it's going to be my toughest test yet.
"I never say I'm surprised as I've put a lot of hard work in and its been years in the making. I expect a lot of myself and always want more and it's been a good start to the season but I expect myself to do better so that's what I'm going to try and do."
On the prospect of facing Kvitova, she added: "I expect a tough challenge, she'll go in prepared but so will I. My coach will watch her DVDs and give me some tips but I just have to go out there and play my game because I can play even better than I did today."