Eugenie Bouchard: First Canadian to reach Australian Open semi-finals
Published Tuesday, January 21, 2014 11:04AM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, January 21, 2014 7:07PM EST
Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard’s meteoric rise on the women’s tennis tour continues Thursday when she becomes the first Canadian to play a semi-final match at the Australian Open.
Bouchard earned a berth in the semis with a hard-fought 5-7, 7-5, 6-2 win over Ana Ivanovic in only her fourth major tournament.
With her victory, Bouchard became only the second Canadian to earn a spot in the semis of any of the four Grand Slam tournaments.
Bouchard said afterward she wasn’t surprised by her victory, despite facing the higher-ranked 2008 French Open champion.
"It's something I've been doing since I was five years old and working my whole life for and sacrificing a lot of things for," she said. "I always expect myself to do well. I'm just happy to have gone through this step. I'm not done."
And it’s her drive that has propelled Bouchard’s fast rise through the ranks of the tennis world, according to Tennis Canada’s Eugene Lapierre.
“It’s really her best strength,” Lapierre said. “She knows she belongs there, she sees herself at the top.”
Bouchard began her tennis career in Montreal’s Westmount neighbourhood, where she played at a local tennis court at the age of five.
“We would play when she was five, just hitting the ball and she would want to keep going, keep going, and try to hit it right in the middle of the racket,” Bouchard’s father Mike told CTV News.
Bouchard is now going further than any Canadian tennis player has in 30 years.
But moments after defeating Ivanovic at the Australian Open, Bouchard was caught off-guard when she was asked by a TV reporter who she would date if she had her pick of anyone in the world.
"You're getting a lot of fans here and a lot of them are male and they want to know if you could pick anyone in the world of sport, of movies, I'm sorry they asked me to say this, who would you date," the interviewer asked, referring to the mostly male fans in the stands that call themselves the “Genie Army.”
After an awkward pause, Bouchard replied “Justin Bieber,” holding her hands to her face and letting out a shy giggle.
"Justin, if you're watching ... um, hey," Bouchard said with a smile as she waved to the camera.
Her choice was met by boos from fans in attendance, with one man shaking his head in disappointment.
Australian media outlets were equally confused by Bouchard’s unusual choice, with one reporter noting, “You had us, Eugenie Bouchard. You had us and then you lost us.”
Bieber doesn’t seem to have many fans in Australia, with dwindling concert sales and a recent spray-painting incident at a Gold Coast hotel sparking anger among many in the country.
Meanwhile, the teenage pro has been winning fans over with her impressive game-play and surprising winning streak at the Australian Open this week.
Bouchard is set to face 2011 French Open champion Li Na in the semi-finals on Thursday.