There’s no doubt Eugenie Bouchard will be an underdog when she faces off against Maria Sharapova in the French Open semifinal Wednesday, but if you’re overlooking the 20-year-old hailing from Westmont, Quebec.
She made it to the final four at the Australian Open earlier this year and just won her first professional tournament last month at the Nuremberg Cup. If that isn’t enough to make you give a long look at her, take some time to go over her win over Carla Suarez Navarro Tuesday.
It took Bouchard about an hour to win the first set but then lost serve twice as Suarez Navarro evened the score in the second set. Bouchard then founder herself in a 4-1 hole in the third set and frustration began to sit in. Uncharacteristically, she lost her cool and hit a ball into the crowd at one point. That’s not what Genie’s Army is used to seeing.
After that though, she roared back and put Suarez Navarro away with her third match point. It’s that killer instinct that is the biggest change in her game from last year. Now, Bouchard takes no prisoners and has jumped up to No. 18 in the WTA rankings.
“I don’t think the tennis tour is the place to have friends,” Bouchard told reporters ahead of Tuesday’s win. “For me, it’s all competition. And I think it’s important to just remember that we’re going to play against each other. It’s not like we’re teammates. To me, it’s kind of more competitive.”
That’s exactly the mindset she’ll need to compete against Sharapova, who has won each of their two meetings in straight sets. Bouchard and Sharapova know each other well, too. Sharapova hand-picked Bouchard to wear her line of Nike tennis gear when the Canadian was 18.
Sharapova also started slow in her quarterfinal, going down 4-0. After that she mounted a big comeback as well and finished Garbiñe Muguruza off by winning nine of the last 10 points of the match.
Sharapova will certainly open as a considerable favorite against Bouchard, but if nothing else, the Canadian won’t be the pushover she was before. As long as Bouchard doesn’t get down too much early in the match, she’ll present a major challenge to Sharapova.