The second women’s semi-final is a clash between the two players with most Grand Slam wins in 2014: Simona Halep and Eugenie Bouchard. Check out the Bouchard vs Halep Head to Head.
Halep reached the quarters of the Australian Open, Bouchard the semis. Bouchard made the last four at Roland Garros; Halep finished runner-up. Now both have come through their first five matches at Wimbledon without losing a set, and it’s nigh-on impossible to predict who will make the final.
Halep has spent less time on court overall, and been dominant in all but one of her matches. She dropped a set to Lesia Tsurenko in the second round, but lost only 16 games in total elsewhere. Bouchard, far from bagelling anyone, has had to knuckle down in every one of her matches so far.
But we must take into account the calibre of each woman’s opponents. The average ranking of Halep’s victims is 84, whereas Bouchard’s is 32. Halep didn’t face anyone ranked inside the top 70 until she ran into an injured and off-form Sabine Lisicki on Wednesday. Bouchard has beaten the veteran Daniela Hantuchova; 20th seed Andrea Petkovic; Serena Williams’ conqueror Alizé Cornet; and ninth seed/ouster of Maria Sharapova, Angelique Kerber. Bouchard has been tested in battle and has the scars to prove it; Halep has been involved in only one light skirmish.
Will the Romanian’s stroll to the final four leave her vulnerable against Bouchard? That seems unlikely. She cruised through her first six matches at the French Open last month and still managed to push Sharapova to the limit in a classic final. Rather than taking time to adjust to a more consistent, higher quality opponent, Halep showed her mettle right from the outset. Moreover, as the world number three, she is now an experienced competitor at the elite level. She’ll be ready for Bouchard.
And we know Bouchard will be ready for Halep. Far from being satisfied with a third consecutive Grand Slam semi showing, the Canadian wants more and will fight for more. She is also well aware that she has as good a chance as any of the remaining players to get her hands on the Venus Rosewater Dish.
The pair’s only previous encounter gives us some indication of how this semi-final might play out. In Indian Wells a few months ago, Halep edged a tight match 6-2, 1-6, 6-4, recovering from a break down in the final set thanks to some tentative play from Bouchard. Thursday’s showdown could be just as close, but the faster grass courts give the attack-minded Bouchard the slight advantage. The 20-year-old has been on the offence throughout her Wimbledon 2014 run, averaging 27 winners per match.
That said, Halep will do much more than just chase down Bouchard’s well-struck groundstrokes. She will use her superior variety to keep the hard-hitting blonde off-balance, slicing and changing direction and maybe even throwing in some moonballs. She’ll also aim to get as many big first serves in as possible in order to prevent Bouchard from launching herself into returns.
This contest between the fastest rising players of the year is as evenly poised as they come. Both women sense a prime opportunity, and both are talented and savvy enough to take it. Much will depend on just how much Halep can mix things up. If she starts well and gives Bouchard plenty to think about early on, she could squeeze through; if she finds herself overpowered in the first few games, the Bouchard juggernaut could be hard to stop.