Former Wimbledon Junior Champion Eugene Bouchard saw off Romania’s Simona Halep to become the first Canadian into the singles final of a Grand Slam on Thursday.
Seeded 13th this year, Bouchard won 7-6 (7-5), 6-2 on Centre Court to set up 2011 Champion Petra Kvitova in Saturday’s final.
Bouchard reached the semi-finals of the Australian and French Open earlier this year, and her bid for a first Wimbledon final appearance took a giant leap when her opponent turned her ankle in the fourth game and required heavy strapping to continue the contest.
Despite her injury concerns, Halep, seeded third, pushed hard in the first set but let a 4-2 lead slip in the tie-break and could not recover.
It’s now certain 20-year-old Bouchard from Montreal will move into the top ten after the third Grand Slam of the year.
“I never say I’m surprised [by my achievements] because I put in a lot of hard work. It’s been years in the making,” said Bouchard.
“It’s tough work but it’s what I love. I love tough moments and challenges.”
Bouchard missed two break points in game seven and trailed 3-2 in the tie-break, which witnessed a slight delay after someone took ill in the crowd.
At 4-2 down, the winner of the 2012 girls’ title found success at the net and she took advantage with more winning volleys, worthy of note was her forehand which sealed the first set after one hour.
Halep struggling with her movement failed to mount any real pressure in the second set, falling behind with two double faults in game three.
The 24-year-old retained the fighting spirit which saw her reach the final of the French Open last month, seeing off three match points at 5-1 down.
Bouchard looked troubled when she allowed two more match points slip before finally serving out the contest.
“it was a little crazy at the end,” Bouchard added. “I have never ended the match like that but I was just happy I kept focus and completed it in the end.
“It took mental strength to stay focused but it is important to enjoy it out there and focus on the point.”
Former world number two Kvitova beat fellow Czech Republican Lucie Safarova 7-5 (8-6), 6-1 in Thursday’s first semi-finals.
On facing Kvitova in Saturday’s showdown, Bouchard added: “It is my first Grand Slam final. I’ll have my toughest match yet. I’m really excited. I’m just going to go for it”