We haven’t got the Serena Williams-Maria Sharapova quarter-final that many anticipated when the women’s draw was made, but this last eight showdown could be just as intriguing. First up on Court 1 on Wednesday, woman-of-the-moment Eugenie Bouchard will take on the equally in-form Angelique Kerber. Check out the Bouchard vs Kerber Head to Head.
Bouchard has long been touted as one of the WTA’s most promising young guns, but the manner in which she has lived up to – and even surpassed – that hype this season has been remarkable. Rather than suffer a sophomore Slam slump after her Australian Open breakthrough back in January, she made the last four of Roland Garros on the back of hoisting her first tournament trophy in Nürnberg.
And at Wimbledon, her star has been shining even brighter. Seemingly immune to the pressure of increased expectations, the Canadian has torn through a difficult draw without the loss of a set. She withstood a firm challenge from veteran Daniela Hantuchova in round one, was a convincing winner over the resurgent Andrea Petkovic in round three, and showed iron nerves to edge Serena-slayer Alizé Cornet in the last 16. Launching herself into groundstrokes with what is becoming a trademark youthful vigour, Bouchard has notched up over a hundred winners in her four matches so far.
Impressive as her route has been though, Bouchard hasn’t survived an instant-classic as Kerber has. On Tuesday afternoon, the German battled Maria Sharapova for over two-and-a-half hours before squeezing out a 7-6, 4-6, 6-4 victory. Playing one of the best matches of her career, Kerber chased down every ball and kept Sharapova under pressure throughout. She used her lefty serve to good effect, created neat, awkward angles on the run, and simply refused to give in. Even when Sharapova saved six match points and threatened to even the decider at 5-all, Kerber remained steely-eyed, dead set on seizing her moment.
If both Bouchard and Kerber bring their previous sparkling form into this encounter, we could be in for a treat. On a base level, it’s a tale of Bouchard’s flat, aggressive hitting versus Kerber’s brick-wall defence, but neither player is so one-dimensional. Genie is a brilliant mover too, and isn’t afraid to approach the net; Kerber can generate great pace on both wings and especially loves whipping forehands down the line.
Kerber won the pair’s first meeting at the US Open last summer, but Bouchard avenged that with a 6-1, 6-2 rout in Paris last month. Perhaps the scheduling will play a role in the outcome of this one: whereas Bouchard has enjoyed a day’s rest since her last match, Kerber will be in action less than 24 hours after her upset of Sharapova. Her physical fitness won’t be an issue, but she could find it tough to rebound mentally.
Prediction: Bouchard will come through a tense three-setter to reach a third consecutive Grand Slam semi-final.