Count Chris Evert as one of Eugenie Bouchard’s biggest fans.
“It’s amazing, we talk so much about physically and the natural athletes of the game, but we don’t talk enough about mentally, that aspect and how important that is,” said Evert on Tuesday, on ESPN’s Australian Open broadcast. “She just deals with the pressure so beautifully.
“You can’t teach that. You’re born with it… Nothing fazed her, and that’s a gift that she has.”
On Monday night (Tuesday afternoon in Australia), the 19-year-old Bouchard became the second Canadian ever to advance to the semifinals in a tennis Grand Slam.
She also became the first Canadian to reach that stage at the Australian Open with her victory over former world No. 1 Ana Ivanovic – 5-7, 7-5, 6-2 – in Melbourne’s quarterfinals.
“She was playing really well,” Bouchard said of Ivanovic. “I just had to stay with her and control the point a little bit more.
“I think I got more aggressive… even in the third (set) she was still serving really well and trying to go for her shot. It was just a battle of aggressiveness a bit.”
Bouchard will now face Li Na, a Grand Slam champion (2011) currently ranked fourth in the WTA, in the semis on Thursday.
“I played (Li Na) in Montreal in 2012, we had a tough battle but I was not so experienced back then,” Bouchard said on the court, after her win. “This time I’ll be ready. She won’t give me many chances so I’ll have to take any that I get.”
The 30th ranked Montrealer is the first Canadian to reach a Grand Slam semi since 1984, when Carling Bissett did the same at that year’s U.S. Open. Bouchard’s world ranking is expected to climb to 21 with Tuesday’s win. Entering last year’s Aussie Open, she was ranked 145th.
In the crowd on Tuesday was Bouchard’s traveling fan club, the Genie Army, which has tossed her an Australian animal stuffie after each of her wins.
“Hopefully, they’ll care more about tennis (in Canada) now,” Bouchard told reporters. “It’s definitely not the most popular sport there, but I think it’s growing and I think it’s getting better.
“I’m just trying to do the best I can for myself, and for the country as well.”
VIDEO: Highlights of Eugenie Bouchard vs Ana Ivanovic
VIDEO: Bouchard makes history at Aussie Open (Sportsnet)