* Bouchard is first Canadian to reach a grand slam final
* “I expect good results like this,” 20-year-old says
By Clare Lovell
LONDON, July 3 (Reuters) - For a 20-year-old who has been playing on the main tour for barely two years, Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard is scarily confident and composed.
After pummelling third seed Simona Halep into submission 7-6(5) 6-2 in the Wimbledon semi-finals on Thursday, Bouchard, who started 10 places behind her opponent in the rankings, was not surprised by her success.
“I expect good results like this ... It’s a step in the right direction. I get to play in the final,” she said.
“You know, I still have another match, so it’s not a full celebration yet.”
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.”
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 blinders 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.” (Editing by David Goodman)