Eugenie Bouchard and Carla Suarez Navarro will face off on Court Suzanne Lenglen on Tuesday, with the winner booking a spot in her first ever French Open semi-final. The Bouchard vs Suarez Navarro Head to Head stands at 0-1.
Both players made it to the quarter-final stage with a similar workload. Bouchard had two easy wins over Shahar Peer and Angelique Kerber, a tougher two-set victory over Johanna Larsson, and was pushed to three sets by Julia Goerges. Suarez Navarro breezed past Taylor Townsend and Ajla Tomljanovic, edged out Yuliya Beygelzimer in two close sets and went the distance against Timea Bacsinszky.
Another similarity between these two is their excellent form leading up to Roland Garros. After suffering a mini-slump following her breakthrough run at the Australian Open and going winless in Madrid and Rome, Bouchard earned her first career title in Nürnberg last week. Suarez Navarro also won her maiden trophy this clay court season, taking out former French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova in the Portugal Open final. A fortnight later she reached the last eight in Rome, recording a convincing win over Venus Williams and pushing Ana Ivanovic to the limit in a high quality quarter-final.
So which player can seize a golden opportunity and reach the final four in Paris? Twenty-five-year-old Suarez Navarro is the more experienced on paper, but she has only climbed into the upper echelons of the women’s game relatively recently. And although she has reached the quarter-finals of every major bar Wimbledon, she has never won at that stage. Bouchard looked like a world beater in her fourth round dismissal of Kerber, and was a surprise semi-finalist in Melbourne just a few months ago.
Suarez Navarro won the pair’s only previous encounter, in the second round of Wimbledon last summer. On that occasion, she used her sublime one-handed backhand and greater shot variety to keep the less experienced Bouchard off balance on the fast-paced grass courts of SW19. Tuesday’s match-up will be a very different and, hopefully, even more compelling affair. Suarez Navarro has enjoyed most of her success on clay – Bouchard’s least favourite surface – but the 20-year-old Canadian is getting better and better at mixing pace, spin and angles to keep her opponents guessing. She has also hit upwards of 20 winners in each of her four matches so far, demonstrating a greater desire to take the ball earlier.
With such a huge reward at stake, it would be no surprise if this quarter-final became a mental battle. Suarez Navarro kept her wits about her during that two-and-a-half-hour slugfest with Bacsinszky, but she has been known to wobble on the big stages: she lost 6-1, 6-0 to Dominika Cibulkova at the Australian Open and was double bagelled by Serena in New York last year. Bouchard, meanwhile, has acquired a reputation as the most mentally sound young players on tour, and hasn’t suffered a blowout loss all season. We’ll tip the Montréal native to edge this one in two entertaining sets.