LONDON (Reuters) - Named after a British princess and tipped by John McEnroe as a Wimbledon queen-in-waiting, there are not many things that intimidate Eugenie Bouchard.
That was certainly the case on Monday as the Canadian 20-year-old made her debut outing this year on Wimbledon’s famed Center Court in front of members of the British royal family and lapped up the adulation of the crowd as it rose to salute her 7-6(5) 7-5 win over Serena Williams’s conqueror Alize Cornet.
“You can ask my coach or my parents or anyone that I can be a princess,” a grinning Bouchard, the first Canadian to reach the Wimbledon quarter-finals, told reporters.
“I can be moody in the morning. I’m not much of a morning person. My fitness trainer carries my tennis bag around, but that’s because I want to save all my energy for the match.
“I can demand a few things once in a while, but I do it with love.”
Bouchard, whose “royalist” parents named her Eugenie after one of the daughters of Britain’s Prince Andrew, is a no-nonsense Canadian who has no time for any friends or superstitions on the tennis tour. Accordingly, she was totally unfazed by the spectre of facing the woman who had beaten pre-tournament favorite and world No.1 Williams 48 hours earlier.
Even when her single-minded pursuit of a quarter-final place was rudely interrupted by the weather while trailing 2-3 in the first set, she accepted it as merely another part of the unique Wimbledon adventure.
“I’m happy I got the experience of playing under the famous roof. I follow the roof on Twitter, and he’s kind of funny. I hope he’s proud of how I played today. He was looking down. Hopefully he enjoyed the match,” Bouchard said.
@WimbledonRoof was certainly impressed. Within seconds it responded to its 10,000 or so followers by saying: “Hey @geniebouchard. Hope you enjoyed playing under my protection today? You are welcome back any time...”
The pitter-patter sound of raindrops heard through the translucent retractable covering failed to distract Bouchard as she came back from the 35-minute break to sprinkle her opponent’s half of the court with thunderous winners.
An ace at 5-5 in the tiebreak gave her set point and Cornet surrendered with a backhand error.
Cornet’s racket felt the full brunt of her anger as she tossed it on to the turf, but that appeared to have the desired effect in firing up the 25th seed.
Opting to attack the net more, the Frenchwoman looked like she would stretch the contest into a third set when she took a 4-2 and then a 5-3 lead.
But when Cornet served for the set, Bouchard showed the mindset and fighting instincts that carried her to the Australian and French Open semi-finals - the only woman to reach the last four of both tournaments this year.
She made sure there would be no more joyous turf-kissing by Cornet when the Frenchwoman looped a backhand long on match point to bow out in straight sets.
Fellow Canadians Carling Bassett-Seguso, Patricia Hy-Boulais and Daniel Nestor have all made the second week of the grasscourt major over the years, but none has managed to go as far as Bouchard.
“Another little historic thing for Canada. That’s cool. I hope I can go further,” said the 20-year-old whose next test will be against either French Open winner Maria Sharapova or German ninth seed Angelique Kerber.
For Bouchard, the promising results are starting to add up in 2014.
“I really enjoyed school. My favorite class was math. I was very determined to try to get 100 percent on all my math tests. I think that kind of self-discipline translates to tennis,” she said.
Editing by David Goodman