Bouchard looks to become first Canadian to win Grand Slam women’s singles title

Billie Jean King believes Wimbledon finalists Petra Kvitova and Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard are creating one of the most exciting times in women’s tennis in decades.

LONDON — Billie Jean King believes Wimbledon finalists Petra Kvitova and Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard are creating one of the most exciting times in women’s tennis in decades.

King ought to know. She helped start the Women’s Tennis Association more than 40 years ago.

The 24-year-old Kvitova of the Czech Republic will face the 20-year-old Bouchard, who will play in her first Wimbledon women’s singles final on Saturday. It will also be the first appearance for a Canadian woman in a Grand Slam singles final.

The finalists are from a generation of fitter and stronger players who have “closed the gap on power and belief” with their older contemporaries, King said at a news conference during Wimbledon.

“They have definitely caught up,” King said. “Women have more confidence overall, Serena (Williams) is not in the same place as she was, she’s a little more vulnerable.

“The men have had their ’Top 4.’ Now we’ve got a lot of younger women who want to be here. They like the show time.”

Milos Raonic of Thornhill, Ont., reached the semifinals of the men’s draw before dropping a 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 decision to Roger Federer of Switzerland on Friday. Vancouver’s Vasek Pospisil and American Jack Sock will play Bob and Mike Bryan of the United States on Saturday in the men’s doubles final.

Also Saturday, Toronto’s Daniel Nestor and French partner Kristina Mladenovic, the defending mixed doubles champions, will take on Max Mirnyi of Belarus and Hao-Ching Chan of Taiwan in semifinal play. The men’s singles final between Federer and Novak Djokovic of Serbia will go Sunday.

Bouchard, from Westmount, Que., defeated Romania’s Simona Halep 7-6 (5), 6-2 in semifinal play Thursday while Kvitova defeated fellow Czech Lucie Safarova 7-6 (6), 6-1. Kvitova won her only Wimbledon title in 2011.

Bouchard was ranked No. 13 heading into this year’s tournament, seven positions lower than Kvitova.

Bouchard won the Wimbledon girls’ title in 2012 and was named WTA Newcomer of the Year in 2013. She has performed well at the other majors this season, reaching the semifinals at the Australian Open and French Open.

She won her first WTA title last month at the Nuremberg Cup. It was the first WTA singles title for a Canadian woman since Aleksandra Wozniak of Blainville, Que., won at Stanford six years ago.

Bouchard has a chance to become the youngest Grand Slam women’s champion since Maria Sharapova won the 2006 U.S. Open at age 19.

Here are five things to know about the big show Saturday on Centre Court:

WHAT A YEAR: Bouchard was the only woman to have advanced to all three Grand Slam tournament semifinals this year, and now she’s taken it another step. She’s received support from her home country, politicians, and even “The Big Bang Theory” actor Jim Parsons. She finished 2013 ranked 32nd and will move to sixth or seventh — the highest ranking for a Canadian woman — when the new ranking list comes out Monday.

ONLY MEETING: Kvitova and Bouchard have played just once. They faced off on hard courts last year at the Rogers Cup in Toronto, with Kvitova an easy winner 6-3, 6-2.

NEW GENERATION: The final Saturday is the first to feature two players born in the 1990s. Kvitova is the only player born in that decade to win a Grand Slam — her 2011 title here — while Bouchard is the fourth player born in the ’90s to reach a Grand Slam final. The others are Halep (French Open runner-up) and former No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki, the 2009 U.S. Open runner-up.

KVITOVA’S THOUGHTS: “Bouchard is playing (a) very solid game. She’s a very good mover. She’s nearby the baseline. I think it’s very similar to my game. I beat her for the first time last year, but it’s long time ago. This is totally different. So, I mean, I really have to be focusing on everything and try to push her.”

BOUCHARD’S PLAN: “She has good shots which are very powerful compared perhaps to opponents I played in the tournament. I think she will try to attack, but I will try to do the same thing. I think both of us will try to put pressure on each other. I think it will be important to start the points well on serve and on return. It will be the first shots that decide the match.”

Just Posted

WATCH: Property taxes in Red Deer will go up 2.02 per cent in 2018

City council passes a “tough” budget that maintains most service levels

Red Deer councillor balks at city getting stuck with more funding responsibilities

Volunteer Central seeks municipal funding after being cut off by government

Olds chicken barn burns to the ground, no livestock harmed

More than 100,000 chickens were saved as fire crews prevent the blaze from spreading

Bear video meant to promote conservation: zoo owner

Discovery Wildlife Park says it will look at other ways to promote its conservation message

Red Deer’s Soundhouse closing its doors on Record Store Day

The owners of The Soundhouse want to shut down their store on… Continue reading

NorAm Western Canadian Cross Country Ski Championships begin in Red Deer

The biggest cross-country skiing competition in Red Deer’s history is underway. Nearly… Continue reading

In photos: Get ready for Western Canadian Championships

Haywood NorAm Western Canadian Championships and Peavey Mart Alberta Cup 5/6 start… Continue reading

WATCH: Red Deer city council debates cost-savings versus quality of life

Majority of councillors decide certain services are worth preserving

Got milk? Highway reopened near Millet

A southbound truck hauling milk and cartons collided with a bridge

Stettler’s newest residents overcame fear, bloodshed to come here

Daniel Kwizera, Diane Mukasine and kids now permanent residents

Giddy up: Red Deer to host Canadian Finals Rodeo in 2018

The CFR is expected to bring $20-30 million annually to Red Deer and region

Ice dancers Virtue and Moir to carry flag at Pyeongchang Olympics

Not since Kurt Browning at the 1994 Lillehammer Games has a figure… Continue reading

Beer Canada calls on feds to axe increasing beer tax as consumption trends down

OTTAWA — A trade association for Canada’s beer industry wants the federal… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month