Australian Open 2014: Eugenie Bouchard battles back from a set down to add Ana Ivanovic to her growing list of big-name scalps

The 19-year-old looked completely at home as she knocked out Serena Williams' conqueror to reach the semi-finals with a 5-7 7-5 6-2 win

Twelve months ago you would have got long odds on Eugenie Bouchard becoming the first Canadian to reach the semi-finals of the Australian Open, but the 19-year-old from Montreal duly made history here today when she moved into the last four of the year’s opening Grand Slam event thanks to a spirited 5-7, 7-5, 6-2 victory over Ana Ivanovic.

Bouchard, who is making her debut in the main draw here after losing in the second round of qualifying last year, kept her nerve despite losing the first set. Ivanovic, who had produced the biggest shock of the tournament so far when she beat Serena Williams in the previous round, had treatment for a leg injury in the second set, after which Bouchard took control.

The teenager’s self-confidence was apparent after the match, when she said she had not been surprised by her success. “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.  I have a match on Thursday.  I'm just looking forward to that.”

Bouchard, who is one of Laura Robson’s best friends and shares a coach with the British No 1, started 2013 as the world No 147, but has since made stunning progress. Recently voted the women’s “newcomer of the year”, she is already up to No 31 in the world rankings and will move into the top 20 next week.

Such is the speed of her rise that Bouchard has played in only three other Grand Slam tournaments. However, her potential has long been recognised. She won the Wimbledon junior doubles event in 2011 and took both the singles and doubles titles at the All England Club the following year.

Bouchard’s calmness under pressure was evident as she came back in the second set. The teenager also kept her composure when Ivanovic took time out for treatment on her leg injury.

“Late in the second set I decided to use my forehand a little bit more and I think that worked well,” Bouchard said. “Having lost the first set, I just tried to focus on what I had to do during the point to try to win. I tried to keep pressing her and moving forward.

“That's what kept me really calm.  I felt like my game got a bit better as the match went on.  I feel like in the first set I was close, but I was missing shots just by a little bit, hitting the tape of the net, just a bit out.  I felt like my game was there and I just needed to relax a little bit and play.”

Bouchard, who is the first Canadian woman to reach a Grand Slam semi-final since Carling Bassett at the 1984 US Open, will turn 20 next month, when Li, her next opponent, will celebrate her 32nd birthday.  The world No 4 maintained her excellent form here – she lost in the final to Kim Clijsters in 2011 and to Victoria Azarenka in last year’s final - when she beat  Italy’s Flavia Pennetta 6-2, 6-2.

Tomas Berdych became the first man to reach the semi-finals when he beat David Ferrer 6-1, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4. Ferrer, the world No 3, was outgunned by the big-hitting Czech for two sets but fought back, only to hand the momentum back when he played a sloppy game when serving at 2-2 in the fourth set.

The Spaniard was unable to convert a break point when Berdych served for the match as the world No 7 secured a place in the semi-finals here for the first time. Berdych, who has now made the last four at all the Grand Slam events, will next face the winner of today’s later quarter-final between Novak Djokovic and Stanislas Wawrinka.

“It was extremely tough,” Berdych said afterwards. “After losing the third set, I really was not playing my best.  After that I just tried to re-focus on my game again.”

 

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