Wimbledon - Bouchard blasts past Halep and into final

Eugenie Bouchard overcame a tricky start to beat third seed Simona Halep 7-6 6-2 to set up a Wimbledon final against Petra Kvitova.

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Wimbledon - Bouchard blasts past Halep and into final
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Erstmals in einem Grand-Slam-Finale: Eugenie Bouchard

Bouchard, the number 13 seed, needed a tie-break to win the first set but cruised to the second with minimal fuss.

The Canadian reached the semi-finals of both the Australian and French Opens this year but will now contest her first Grand Slam final on Saturday.

The 20-year-old from Montreal harried and chased Halep from the baseline, producing a series of forehand winners.

"I expect good results like this ... It's a step in the right direction. I get to play in the final," said the confident Bouchard.

"You know, I still have another match, so it's not a full celebration yet."

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Two first-set interruptions - for Halep to have treatment on a sore foot and for medics to attend and then lead away a sick spectator - hardly troubled the 13th seed.

Only when a squeal from the crowd distracted her on her first match point did the Montreal-born player show any flicker of stress or emotion.

She marched to umpire Kader Nouni to ask for the point to be replayed, something she described afterwards as an unfortunate incident.

"I felt like we should have replayed the point, but he said, no, it was her point. I took it as a challenge and tried to keep going."

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Bouchard, who plays with enormous intensity and power, needed six match points to earn Canada's first appearance in a grand slam final.

"What I do well is I really don't let it get to me or affect me ... There are challenges everywhere in life. You know, I love being challenged and I love working hard to try to overcome something," she said.

Whether it is beating established names such as Daniela Hantuchova and Angelique Kerber on her way to the final, or sidestepping awkward questions at post-match press conferences, Bouchard handles herself with calm assurance.

Asked about a series of Twitter marriage proposals, she coolly remarked with heavy irony: "Good effort, though. There's always a chance, I guess, that I'll say yes over Twitter."

And she batted aside questions about her enthusiasm for Justin Bieber, saying she hoped he had spotted her as she had put in so much hard work recently.

Bouchard is single-minded in pursuit of tennis success and clearly relishes hard graft.

"I really try to keep my blinkers on and just focus on the next step, you know, whether it's a day of practice or the next match," she said.

Between tournaments she jumps hurdles and pulls weighted sleds to keep in shape.

"I enjoy working hard," she explained. "I love a good gym session. Lots of squats, lunges, dead lifts, all that good stuff. It's getting really physical nowadays, the game, so you've got to be, like, in top shape."

The effort has paid off. Bouchard covers the court with big strides, thunders down serves and hits heavy groundstrokes, especially on the forehand.

Halep suggested that the Canadian's very presence on court is intimidating.

"She is very focused. She's tall. When she stays very close to the baseline, it's like you see just her on court," the Romanian said.

In Saturday's final Bouchard will face another tall, powerful, intimidating figure in 2011 champion Petra Kvitova.

She sees the match as a job that needs finishing, a task to be completed, a challenge to be met.

"I always believe I can win every time I step on to the court," she said. "I feel good. I will give everything and we shall see."

After an explosive start, in which the pair flung each other around Centre Court with some brutal groundstrokes, third seed Halep looked poised to take the set from 4-2 up in the tiebreak.

But after a short delay to allow medics to come to the aid of a sick spectator, Halep fell victim to that untimely netcord and resurgent 13th seed Bouchard clawed her way back to win 7-6(5) 6-2.

"I served really well at 3-2, but then there was a lucky ball when she hit the net at 4-2," Halep told reporters. "I think it was an important moment at that point. I lost my concentration a little bit.

"I played until the end, but in the second set I lost my energy and I couldn't believe any more that I could finish the match in the right way."

The powerful duo shared some punishing exchanges until Halep, the first Romanian woman to reach the semi-finals at the All England Club, rolled her ankle in the fourth game and required treatment from the trainer.

Though able to continue, the fear of aggravating the injury rattled the 22-year-old's composure.

"I felt a big pain, but then it was better with the tape," she said. "It is hard to stay focused, to play every point, because you are a little bit afraid after injury.

"But I couldn't push anymore in my leg. My first serve was really bad after that."

Having lost to Maria Sharapova in the French Open final last month, Halep was aiming to become the first woman since Justine Helen in 2006 to reach the singles finals at both Roland Garros and Wimbledon.

With that target gone, Halep is now looking forward to some rest and relaxation before next month's U.S. Open.

"After the French Open there was a really short time to recover," she said.

"But I'm really happy that I could play a semi-final here. It's my best result at Wimbledon. With a week's holiday I will be 100 percent again."

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