Australian Open 2015: Eugenie Bouchard's tough talk earns shot at Maria Sharapova

Bouchard beat Irina-Camelia Begu 6-1, 5-7, 6-2

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The Independent Online

When Maria Sharapova is no longer the world’s highest-earning female athlete – and no sportswoman has banked more than her for the last 10 years – it will be no surprise if her mantle is taken by another ball-thumping blonde. At 20, Eugenie Bouchard is already one of the hottest properties in tennis and she can add to her burgeoning reputation tomorrow by beating Sharapova in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open.

There are many similarities between the Russian and the Canadian, including a ferociously competitive spirit. Sharapova demonstrated her never-say-die qualities by saving two match points in the second round, while Bouchard, who is attempting to reach the semi-finals in Melbourne for the second year in a row, gritted her teeth after a mid-match slump in her 6-1, 5-7, 6-2 victory yesterday over Romania’s Irina-Camelia Begu.

From a set and 3-0 up, Bouchard let the second set slip away, upon which she took a bathroom break. “I gave myself a good, long hard look in the mirror,” she admitted. “I said: ‘Genie, this is unacceptable.’ I really kind of kicked myself in the butt a little bit.”

The talking-to clearly worked and now the world No 7 can prepare to take on Sharapova, who beat China’s Peng Shuai 6-3, 6-0. The world No 2 appreciates Bouchard’s qualities. “She’s a pretty aggressive player,” Sharapova said. “She stays really close to the line. She likes to dictate the points.”

Maria Sharapova will face Bouchard in the quarter-final

Sharapova has won all three of her meetings with Bouchard, most recently in the semi-finals of last year’s French Open. Recalling that match, Bouchard said: “I didn’t feel like I was playing great tennis the whole time, but that’s what it’s about – trying to win and trying to always play better, get through it, even if you’re not playing your best. But I think I’ve progressed a lot since then. I am going to really take it to her and go for my shots.”

Simona Halep eased into the quarter-finals with her fourth successive straight-sets victory, beating Yanina  Wickmayer 6-4, 6-2. The Romanian now faces  Russia’s Ekaterina Makarova, who beat Julia Görges of Germany 6-3, 6-2.