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Bouchard faces Kvitova for Wimbledon title

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Eugenie Bouchard, the new It Girl of women's tennis. Photo: Al Bello

 

London - Eugenie Bouchard, the new It Girl of women's tennis, is braced to become an overnight multi-million dollar superstar if she defeats Petra Kvitova in Saturday's Wimbledon final.

Exactly 10 years to the day when 17-year-old Maria Sharapova blitzed Serena Williams on Centre Court to become a global phenomenon, the 20-year-old Bouchard, the first Canadian in history to reach a Grand Slam singles final, is on the verge of similar riches.

The comparisons between Bouchard and Sharapova are impossible to avoid.

Both are tall, blonde and photogenic with the composed and self-confident high-profiles slavishly courted by blue-chip suitors desperate for endorsement.

But Bouchard, already on the books of Nike and Coca-Cola, refuses to get ahead of herself.

“First and foremost I focus on the tennis. Whatever comes with it, I take in my stride. I know it's part of the job and I appreciate everything that comes with it,” said the Montreal native who will pocket more than $3 million (about R32 million) if she triumphs on Saturday.

“But I know if I don't perform on the court then there's not much off court. So I really try to focus on my job, because at the end of the day I'm a tennis player.

“I go to work every day and I work on my tennis. As long as I do that, you know, I'll take anything that comes with it.”

Bouchard's royalty-obsessed mother named her after the younger daughter of Prince Andrew, Queen Elizabeth II's second son, while her twin sister is named after Beatrice, Andrew's elder daughter.

Those regal connections have earned Bouchard plenty of attention throughout her march to a first Grand Slam final and the 13th seed would dearly love a royal audience with the Duchess of Kent, who presents the Venus Rosewater dish awarded to the women's singles champion at the All England Club.

After falling at the semi-final stage of both the Australian and French Opens this year, Bouchard could have been forgiven for embarking on a jubilant celebration following her victory over world number three Simona Halep in Thursday's last four clash.

But like the royals idolised by her mother, Bouchard carries herself with a serene disposition and when she finally clinched victory on her sixth match point, she only briefly raised her arms and gave a small fist pump.

Bouchard, the junior Wimbledon champion only two years ago, holds herself to high standards and becoming the first Canadian to reach a Grand Slam final is nothing more than she expected, so she will save any real celebrations for if she wins the title this weekend.

“I'm proud of what I've accomplished, but the job is not over,” she said.

“I started playing tennis at five years old and I was nine when I decided I wanted to do it professionally. Since that age I dreamt of winning a Grand Slam.

“It's been a long time in the making, for it to finally come together, all the hard work, the talent I know I have, the effort I put in, for it to produce results on the match court.

“It's not just an overnight thing. I've been believing in myself more and more.”

In a first Grand Slam final to feature two players born in the 1990s, it's also a match likely to be played beneath the Centre Court roof with showers expected in the afternoon.

Bouchard's agent Sam Duvall believes the Canadian is destined to become the most famous player in the world.

“She's got the personality, she's got the game, she's got the looks,” he told the Daily Mail.

“She speaks two languages - French and English - and the crossover appeal is great. She understands that the better she plays tennis, the more money, the more marketable and the more famous she will be. But it's all centred on the tennis.”

While Bouchard possesses a steely self-confidence, 2011 champion Kvitova prefers a more low-key approach.

And the Czech's rather cold comments about the Canadian hinted at an undercurrent of tension between the finalists.

“I have many friends on the tour. Of course I think it is possible,” said Kvitova, who has dropped just one set en route to the final.

“I'm glad that I have a friends here. I don't know her (Bouchard). I just know how she's playing, and that's it. We are not really talking to each other.” - Sapa-AFP


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