MELBOURNE - Supremely confident teenager Eugenie Bouchard reinforced her status as one of the game’s most exciting prospects by upsetting Ana Ivanovic to reach the Australian Open semi-finals Tuesday.
The 19-year-old Canadian, the WTA’s newcomer of the year in 2013, showed composure to come from a set down and beat the 14th-ranked Serb 5-7, 7-5, 6-2 and set up a last-four clash with Li Na.
It was all the more remarkable in that she is making her tournament debut, with the victory forecast to push her into the world’s top 20 when the new rankings are released next week.
“I tried to stay calm, I did feel confident,” she said.
“Having lost the first set, I just tried to focus on what I had to do during the points to try to win, really just tried to keep pressing her and moving forward.”
The shock win ended the resurgence of former world number one Ivanovic, who came into the tournament on the back of winning the Auckland International and beat Serena Williams in the third round.
Ivanovic, who took a medical timeout in the second set with a left leg problem, was aiming to make her first Grand Slam semi-final since 2008, when she won the French Open and made the Australian Open final.
She tipped Bouchard for big things.
“She’s young girl. I think she has very bright future in front of her,” she said. “She’s a very aggressive player. It’s sometimes very hard to read her game.”
The composed Bouchard said reaching her first Grand Slam semi-final, at only her fourth attempt, was no surprise.
“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.
“So it’s not exactly a surprise. I always expect myself to do well.”
Bouchard has a booming serve and she blasted through her opening service game on Rod Laver Arena to love before Ivanovic also comfortably held.
The Serb’s probing groundstrokes gave her two break points as she started to get the measure of the Canadian, but she was unable to convert either.
There was little between them as they searched for any weakness.
Bouchard held and then created a break point chance in the next but the Serb stepped it up with the Canadian putting a forehand wide.
Ivanovic put pressure on her opponent’s serve and took her chance in the fifth game when the teenager sent a volley long to get the break.
Undaunted, the Canadian bounced straight back. But in a see-sawing set, the Serb struck again in the ninth game after Bouchard drilled a forehand wide.
With luck on her side, Bouchard broke back after a being awarded a point for a ball that replays showed was out. Ivanovic kept playing and didn’t challenge, but made her frustration known to the umpire.
But the Serb didn’t let it get to her and she broke again, and then confidently served out the first set.
Despite her young age, Bouchard showed maturity to hold serve in the second set and force two break points in the fourth, converting the second.
She served to go 4-1 in front but Ivanovic came roaring back in a tense seventh game to break on her third chance.
Ivanovic called a medical timeout at the changeover. She lost her serve to love on her return but showed courage to break straight back and hold serve to be 5-5.
But it counted for nothing with a double fault allowing the Canadian to level the match.
The unrelenting Bouchard was on a roll and Ivanovic had no way back.