PARIS (Reuters) - Just like her one-time idol Maria Sharapova, Eugenie Bouchard likes a scrap, as she proved again by twice overturning daunting deficits to clinch a French Open semi-final spot on Tuesday.
The 20-year-old Canadian trailed 5-2 in the first set and 4-1 in the third before fighting back to send Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro packing 7-6(4) 2-6 7-5.
She will have to summon that same never-say-die spirit when she meets 2012 champion Sharapova in the last four after the Russian clawed her way to a three-set victory over Spain’s Garbine Muguruza.
“At the end of the day, whether I win or lose, I want to at least leave it all there and try and at least battle,” Montreal-based Bouchard, beaten by Sharapova in the second round a year ago, told reporters.
“I’m proud of the way I did that in both the first and third. For me it was such a physical and emotional battle.
“You know, I was down. I was always coming back and fighting and trying and really kind of a grind on clay.”
After reaching her second straight grand slam semi-final, the 18th seed sought to play down the oft-used description of her as the “next Sharapova”, both for her style of play and her looks, saying she just wants to be herself on court.
“I respect her. But now, you know, we’re in the semis of a grand slam, so I’m going to respect her but not put her too high on a pedestal and really just battle,” the 20-year-old said.
At seven years her senior, Sharapova first caught the Canadian’s eye at a tournament in Miami - when the young pretender was watching in the crowd.
“Well, I mean, first I noticed like her cute dresses and things like that when I was young,” she said, smiling.
“I was watching the Miami tournament and a photo was taken of her and me when I was seven or eight. And then after this, I remember when she won Wimbledon (in 2004) I was watching her on TV, and I thought, wow, what she’s doing is cool.
“I want to do the same,” she said at the memory of Sharapova’s London title aged just 17.
“I was playing tennis already at the time. You know, she was a source of inspiration for me at the time, and therefore, she was an idol for me when I was younger.”
That inspiration has gifted her many of Sharapova’s traits - something she hopes she can used to her advantage.
“She has very powerful shots. I’ll be ready for that. Also, mentally she’s strong. But I think that I have a good serve and good shots, as well,” she said.
Reporting by Alison Williams, editing by Martyn Herman