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By Martyn Herman
LONDON, July 2 (Reuters) - Eugenie Bouchard struck another blow for the new kids on the block when she overpowered Germany’s Angelique Kerber 6-3 6-4 to reach the Wimbledon semi-finals on Wednesday.
Already seen as the golden girl of tennis, the 20-year-old Canadian looked like a grand slam champion in waiting with another irresistible barrage of attacking strokes.
A day after Australia’s 19-year-old Nick Kyrgios fired a warning to the established order in men’s tennis by taking down Rafael Nadal, Bouchard, a year older and far more established, packed too much firepower for gritty 26-year-old Kerber.
With the usual suspects - the likes Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, Li Na and Victoria Azarenka - already out, Bouchard is knocking louder than ever on the grand slam trophy cabinet.
She fell to Li in the semi-finals at the Australian Open and was edged out at the same stage by Sharapova at Roland Garros, but is determined that it will be third time lucky.
“I‘m excited to be in the semis. But, you know, I‘m never satisfied, so definitely want to go a step further,” she said.
“I think I played some great players when I lost in the semis,” added Bouchard, who will have to get past fast-rising Romanian Simona Halep to reach her first major final.
“You don’t win every single time. But I‘m going to look forward to try to play a little bit like I played today,” she said.
“It’s not every day you can walk out on Centre Court and play the semis of a slam. I‘m going to try, give it my best, leave everything on the court and we’ll see what happens.”
From 3-3 in the first set, when she saved four break points, the young Canadian took a stranglehold with a flurry of winners against an opponent looking a little leg-weary after her thrilling three-set victory over Sharapova the previous day.
Tucking into Kerber’s weak second serve like a lumberjack taking his axe to a pine, she broke in the next game and then picked it off twice more to march 4-1 ahead in the second set before a brief wobble allowed Kerber hope.
Ninth seed Kerber crept back into contention and was within a point of levelling at 5-5 before a few more lusty blows from the Bouchard racket sealed the victory.
“I tried my best,” Kerber said. “She played a great match today. She hit the balls on the line, down the line.”
The momentum is with Bouchard but Halep will present another step up for the Canadian, whose free-swinging game and positive approach is reminiscent of Sharapova when she won Wimbledon as a teenager in 2004, albeit without quite as much noise.
“I‘m going to be ready,” she said. “You know, really just try to go for it and take my chances. It’s the semis, so I‘m going to expect the toughest match ever.” (Editing by John O‘Brien and David Goodman)