Eugenie Bouchard, Canada’s tennis superstar, has reached the semi finals of the French Open where she’ll face four-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova Thursday at 6 a.m. PST.
Of course, you knew this because it’s kind of a big deal.
Bouchard has played Sharapova twice in her career — both last year — losing both matches in straight sets.
But a lot has changed in the past year: Prince George became more than just a small town in B.C., Rob Ford is now as famous as Kim Kardashian, the Canucks threw away two incredible goaltenders, and Genie is a lot better at tennis.
Here are six reasons why Bouchard is ready to win against Sharapova now.
1. Canada’s coach says so
Sylvain Bruneau, team Canada’s women’s national team coach, on what’s improved since Genie lost to Sharapova 6-2 6-4 at last year’s French Open (from the Globe and Mail):
“Genie is a much better athlete now than she was then, she’s stronger mentally, and her shots are heavier, faster and more powerful, and that’s crucial when you play Maria Sharapova… She moves a lot better than she used to, she’s a year older and has a lot more experience under her belt.”
2. It might look like they’re friends, but…
Genie first met Sharapova when she was eight and Sharapova was 16. Look:
3. It might look like they’re friends, but… (part II)
Genie and Sharapova did a Nike photo shoot together in January 2013. This picture was taken:
Asked yesterday about their relationship, Genie’s response:
“Well, first, I mean, you know, we’re not friends, so there is that. Yeah, of course as a child I looked up to her and I remember watching her in the finals of Wimbledon (in 2004) and, you know, thought what she was doing was so cool and I wanted to do the same thing.”
The claws are out.
4. Maria is NOT Genie’s idol
This article on the Huffington Post explicitly says Bouchard started playing tennis because of Sharapova. But there’s one big problem with their statement. Look closely:
Yeah… that’s not Maria guys…
5. Canada’s last semi-finalist says so
Helen Kelesi was the last Canadian woman to play in a French Open semi final. It was in 1989. Asked about Genie, she said (from The Star):
“She just plays point by point. She fights for every point, she wants every point… That’s really what great championships are made of.”
Kelesi says Bouchard has what it takes.
6. She learned from her first major semi final
Bouchard lost to eventual tournament champion Li Na in the Australian Open semi final earlier this year. Her thoughts on what she gained from that experience (from an interview with TSN):
“I learned a lot. It was my first semi final in Australia and I was a little bit frozen at the beginning of the match. Playing big matches like that will help me in the future. I’ll be much more ready this time.”
There you have it. Most important of all – Genie says she’s ready to beat Sharapova.