LONDON – Eugenie Bouchard could have lost her focus after the fourth game of her Wimbledon semifinal Thursday, when play was delayed for five minutes during Simona Halep’s medical timeout for a left ankle injury.
Bouchard also could have gotten sidetracked when action was halted again, smack-dab in the middle of a tiebreaker, because an ill spectator was being attended to in the Centre Court stands.
And everything really could have unraveled for Bouchard later, as she let match point after match point slip away. Able to steel herself time and again, the singular-of-purpose Bouchard became Canada’s first Grand Slam finalist by beating French Open runner-up Halep, 7-6 (5), 6-2, at the All England Club.
“I’m able to not worry about the distractions,” the 20-year-old Bouchard said. “What I do well is I really don’t let it get to me or affect me.”
In only her sixth major tournament, the 13th-seeded Bouchard will play for the championship Saturday against 2011 Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova. The sixth-seeded Kvitova defeated No. 23 Lucie Safarova, 7-6 (6), 6-1, in the first all-Czech women’s Slam semifinal.
“I know how (it feels) when you hold the trophy,” Kvitova said, “so I really want to win my second title here, and I will do everything (so) I can.”
Waiting in a hallway before walking on court, Kvitova and Safarova chatted, a pair of longtime friends who train at the same club back home. From 6-all in the tiebreaker, Kvitova won 31 of 48 points the rest of the way, using her overpowering serve and forehand that work so well on grass to improve to 6-0 against Safarova.
In a year that zero American men or women reached Wimbledon’s round of 16 for the first time in 103 years, another Canadian, Milos Raonic, will try join Bouchard as a finalist.
The men’s semifinals today are old guard vs. new guard matchups: seven-time champion Roger Federer against Raonic, and top-seeded Novak Djokovic against Grigor Dimitrov.
As of now, the 24-year-old Kvitova is the only man or woman born in the 1990s to win a Grand Slam title. If Bouchard becomes the second, she also would be the youngest major champion since Maria Sharapova was 19 at the 2006 U.S. Open.
“It’s what I’ve worked so long for,” Bouchard said, without a hint of irony.