sport

Bouchard eyes Wimbledon prize

Two years ago Eugenie Bouchard lifted the Wimbledon girls' title; on Saturday she will walk onto the iconic Centre Court for a shot at the senior crown, with 2011 champion Petra Kvitova standing in her path.

The 2014 season has been dubbed a changing of the guard in the women's game and the Wimbledon semi-finals were proof of the new era dawning with Kvitova, who beat Maria Sharapova in straight sets three years ago, the lone Grand Slam winner making the final four.

If 2013 was the year of British sporting success with Andy Murray ending the 77-year wait for a home-grown champion at the All England Club, 2014 has most certainly been the year of the maple leaf with Canadian Bouchard reaching her first Grand Slam final and compatriot Milos Raonic ending the country's century-long wait for a Wimbledon semi-finalist.

Both Bouchard and Kvitova booked their place in Saturday's showpiece event in similar fashion, winning a first set tie break before storming to victory against Simona Halep and Lucie Safarova respectively.

"I'm just really excited to play a big match," admitted Bouchard. "It's my dream to play a big match like this."

Thursday's semi-final showdown with Halep was evidence of Bouchard's prominent rise as the world No 13 dispatched the third seed in straight sets, winning the second 6-2 in just 34 minutes, but the 20-year-old refuses to get carried away with the fame attached to success.

"I'm proud of what I accomplished, but the job is not over," the aggressive right-hander said.

"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. I appreciate everything that comes with it.

"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."

Kvitova, who stormed through the second set of her semi by beating Safarova 6-1, understands the pressure of a Wimbledon final but is braced for a difficult weekend against the in-form Bouchard.

"I think Bouchard is playing a very solid game," the 24-year-old said. "She's a very good mover. She plays from near the baseline. I think it's very similar to my game.

"I think it's going to be a tough battle. Both of us want to win tomorrow. It's just going to depend on which of us wants to win more."

Rest assured, there will be no love lost on Wimbledon's premier stage with Bouchard revealing at last month's French Open: "I don't think the tennis tour is the place to have friends."

Though Kvitova disagrees with that sentiment, the Czech ace admits she holds no friendship with Bouchard.

"Of course I think it is possible," she claimed. "I have many friends on the tour. So I'm not really against that. We are colleagues in the same sport. I'm glad that I have friends here."

"But I don't know Bouchard. I just know how she's playing, and that's it. We don't really talk to each other."

While Kvitova enters the final with experience on her CV, Bouchard cuts a determined figure and believes her commitment will see her reap rewards.

"It's really important for me to have a boring ritual," she added. "I think that's how I keep everything in check, doing the same kind of routine every day. It can get boring, but it helps me play my best.

"I appreciate other people who have done the same and have the se amazing dreams and actually work hard and go out and achieve them. Especially when they come from really humble beginnings and have this positive attitude on life.

"Whatever they earn, it's like because of them. They've truly earned it. I love those stories."