Eugenie Bouchard into second straight Grand Slam semifinal

PARIS – In an on-court interview with former French great Fabrice Santoro – yes, in French – that she nailed every bit as well as she did her quarter-final match against Carla Suárez Navarro of Spain, Montreal's Genie Bouchard said she didn't think she'd ever played a match quite like this one.

It was a marathon. It was a comeback. It was a physically and emotionally bruising effort against a fine clay-court player who certainly wasn't going to give it to her.

Bouchard survived the pint-sized but feisty Spaniard – and herself – to defeat Suárez Navarro 7-6 (4), 2-6, 7-5 to advance to her first French Open semi-final, in only her second trip here in the professional ranks.

It also is Bouchard's second consecutive Grand Slam semi-final in as many attempts this season, the first one coming in January at the Australian Open.

Bouchard was down 2-5 in the first set – two breaks of serve – and won it in a tiebreak. She was down 1-4 in the third set, and came back to win that, too. And the match.

"You know, I was down. I was always coming back and fighting and trying and really kind of grind on clay. I was just so proud of myself that I fought through it and managed to play well in the third and pull out the win," Bouchard said. "I think in the first set I wasn't stepping in on the return, and I kind of realized that in the middle of the match maybe I should try to be a bit more aggressive on it ... I didn't feel like I was serving great, so I wanted to put more pressure on the return."

Her semifinal opponent? No. 7 seed and former French Open champion Maria Sharapova. This is gonna be goooooood.

A disappointed Suárez Navarro didn't dispute the notion that this might be the toughest loss of her career.

"I have to show more courage. At 4‑1, I was a bit nervous. She played the first five games in the set in a totally different way as compared to the way she played at the end of the match. At the very beginning she gave me points. I almost had nothing to do," Suárez Navarro said. "But then I was not showing enough courage on the court. Next time I'll show more courage.

"She is a very tough player and she fought on each point until the end. She was a big fighter, so I'm sad because I was seeing the semifinals within my reach."

It seemed Bouchard had run out of gas at the beginning of that third set. The first set took exactly an hour, and had been grueling. The second set was closer than the score.

The very act of facing a heavily-spinned ball and trying to take it on the rise, before it bounced over her head, time after time after time is an incredibly challenging thing to do. But the weariness it creates can be cumulative. Bouchard was remarkably consistent in that endeavour, given the high risk level it required.

But she made it hard on herself, at times. The 20-year-old spent a lot of her practice time the previous afternoon crushing groundstrokes, getting herself to the net and finishing points off. But when it came time to do it in the match, she hesitated.

As a result, she missed some opportunities to shorten points. She also found herself on the losing end of points because of that hesitation. And there were several backhand volleys early in that third set that she failed to put away, simply because she had hit so few during the match and/or because she didn't have the imagine or wherewithal to hit a drop volley that would have done the job easily.

But as the set progressed, Bouchard found a way – mostly with swinging forehand volleys that are still far more instinctive for her than the conventional ones, even though her technique on those is textbook.

"I think I really wanted to put pressure on her. I think that maybe at the beginning I served too often on her backhand. She has good shots on her backhand and forehand, but she has a lot of confidence on her backhand. I think I started playing more on her forehand. That's true," Bouchard said. "But generally, I really wanted to move forward in the match, because she can return lots of points, and it's very important for me to finish these points."

A double fault on the first match point didn't dismay Bouchard, who was able to quickly turn the page on it. An unforced error on the second match point also didn't faze her, because she figured she did the right thing, just didn't execute. Finally, she was able to put it away.

And get a new friend.

Bouchard joins Carling Bassett-Seguso as the only Canadian players to reach a Grand Slam semifinal. Bassett-Seguso did it 30 years ago at the U.S. Open.