WIMBLEDON, England - The cliché about Canada is that it is a great place for beer and hockey players, but the line needs updating. Add tennis players. The nation has its first Wimbledon finalist.
In what could be called an upset, Eugenie Bouchard of Montreal defeated Simona Halep of Romania, 7-6 (5), 6-2, Friday in the second semifinal. Bouchard will meet a former Wimbledon winner, Petra Kvitova, in Saturday's final. Kvitova beat fellow Czech and close friend Lucie Safarova, 7-6 (6), 6-1, in the first semifinal.
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Halep, No. 3 in the WTA rankings and a finalist in the French Open last month, was affected by a thigh injury incurred earlier in the tournament and a left ankle that required heavy taping after she turned it in the fourth game of the match.
"It was difficult to continue," Halep said. "I felt a big pain in the moment but then was better with the tape. But still I couldn't push anymore on my leg."
Bouchard, 20, the No. 11 seed, didn't move Halep around the court as much as she might have under the circumstances but hit effective shots, and the 22-year-old Halep said as much.
"She's hitting the ball very early and very fast," Halep said. "She's a great player and for sure will be on top soon."
Bouchard, extremely confident, didn't disagree. When asked if she was surprised about her win, the 2012 Wimbledon junior champion replied, "I'm never surprised. I've put in a lot of hard work. I expect results and always want more."
The sixth-seeded Kvitova, 24, took the Wimbledon title in 2011 and then went into a slump from which she now has emerged. Safarova, 27, finally had a breakthrough, reaching a semifinal in her 27th Grand Slam appearance. Only four women took longer to get there.
"I knew it was going to be a tough match against her," said Kvitova, now 6-0 against Safarova. "We know each other so well. From the beginning both of us were very nervous. I'm just glad I served well today."
In 2011, Kvitova beat Venus Williams in the final. "Since then it's been really up and down during the season," she said. "I know a lot of people are expecting from me something more than I did probably. But on the other side, I still was in the top 10."
That's where Bouchard will be after Wimbledon. She also could be on top of the world.
"I get to make Canadian history again," she said after becoming the first to reach the semifinals (an honor quickly shared by Milos Raonic in the men's draw). "It's always exciting. But my job is not done. I want to go a step further. I'm just going to go out there and play my game."
Then, acting her age, she said, "It's really cool. I got to stay at Wimbledon a full two weeks."