Bouchard targets first Slam final against Sharapova

Maria Sharapova, the 2012 champion, will face rising Canadian star Eugenie Bouchard in the French Open semi-finals on Thursday.

The Russian former number one and four-time Grand Slam winner came back from a set down to defeat Spaniard Garbine Muguruza 1-6, 7-5, 6-1

But it was not before she was given an almighty fright by the 20-year-old Muguruza who had knocked out defending champion Serena Williams in the second round.

“There was little I could do in the first set as Garbine was playing so well,” said Sharapova who had also dropped the first set of her fourth round tie against Samantha Stosur.

“I needed to pick up my energy and start moving my feet. It was tough losing the final last year and it has given me greater motivation to go one step further this time.”

Bouchard was also involved in a dogfight as she became the first Canadian woman to reach the French Open semi-finals.

She trailed badly in all three sets before prevailing 7-6 (7/4), 2-6, 7-5 over Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro in 2hr 22min.

The 20-year-old, is the only woman to reach the last four of both majors this season, after losing to Li Na in the Australian Open semi-finals in straight sets.

The only other Canadian to reach a Grand Slam semi-final was Carling Bassett at the US Open in 1984.

“I am just so happy right now, thanks to everyone, this is just completely unbelievable,” Bouchard told a raucous crowd, many with Canadian flags on court Suzanne Lenglen.

“I’m so happy to spend a few more days in Paris and look forward to the semi-final. It feels a bit like home here,” said the right hander in French, who won her first WTA tournament at Nuremberg on the eve of Roland Garros.

The bilingual Bouchard from Montreal came back from 5-2 down to push the first set to a tie-break that she won 7-4.

It was all Suarez Navarro in the middle frame as she broke the Bouchard serve twice to level the match 6-2.

But despite marching to a 4-1 lead in the final set, the 25-year-old 14th seed lost her nerve in a bid to reach her first career Grand Slam semi-final.

Bouchard needed three match points, having double faulted on the first and hitting long on the second before finally wrapping up the match 7-5.

Bouchard and Sharapova have met twice with the Russian defeating the Canadian 6-2, 6-4 at the French Open last year and also winning 6-2, 6-0 at the Miami Masters the same season.

The remaining women’s quarter-finals take place on Wednesday when fourth seed Simona Halep of Romania takes on 2009 champion Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia while 2012 finalist Sara Errani of Italy faces Germany’s 28th seed Andrea Petkovic.


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