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So the WTA's favorite, Eugenie Bouchard of Canada,has made her first WTA Grand Slam Final. She'll face Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic on Saturday.
What is wrong with that first statement? Everything. It's a statement of the sad truth about the WTA as it is currently administered. The WTA as an organization should have no favorite other than the sport of women's tennis. Instead we've had Maria Sharapova, Caroline Wozniacki and now Eugenie Bouchard. All that's missing is the nickname Stacey Allaster will give fellow Canadian Bouchard.
There seems to be a surprise among WTA officials about the depth of dislike for Bouchard. I mean she's 19, she's blonde, she speaks unaccented English despite being from Québec. What's not to like right?
I can only speak for myself. The first time I heard Bouchard do an interview my reaction was "who the hell does she think she is?" She spoke as if she is the only woman to every play at a highly competitive level. She makes no apologies for her abrasive manner and we fans are being encouraged to love her. She's already said that the tour is not the place for friendship echoing Sharapova, and when asked how she feels about her success this year in effect says it's her due after working hard. No "I'm happy to have been so fortunate to do well", or my team and I have worked hard for this. Nope. It's what she's supposed to achieve. She's entitled to the success. Aren't you charmed? I know I am.
You know I've been following tennis for a long time, much longer than I've been writing about it and I remember other brash, confident young women, sisters. In fact the younger sister was more verbally self confident than the older, more willing to speak the truth about her abilities on the tennis court. She said that if she loses the fault lies with her, not that her opponent played better. She was vilified in the tennis press and among tennis fans. There was no head of the WTA to try and brand her brashness as charming even if it was the truth. The younger sister has become more media savvy and says all the right things in her pressers now no matter how painful it is for her. I wonder what the difference is between that younger sister and Ms Bouchard, a difference that makes one charming and the other "arrogant" or "uppity".
There will actually be another blonde taking the court Saturday. Her name is Petra Kvitova and she's already won a Slam. She admitted that going from the hunter to the hunted wasn't easy for her. I watched her play her countrywoman Lucie Safarova today and after a tight first set she ran away with the second set. Kind of like what happened in the second semifinal but for different reasons.
Readers know that I've always said a soft draw does not a champion make so let's look at the path Bouchard and Kvitova took to the final.
Bouchard's path to the Final: Hantuchova (Unseeded) Soler-Espinosa (Unseeded) Petkovic (20) Cornet(25) Kerber(9) Halep (3)
Petra Kvitova's route to the Final. Hlavackova unseeded. Barthel unseeded. Venus seeded #30. Peng unseeded. BZS unseeded. Safarova #23.
If I follow my own belief it'll be Bouchard who'll hoist the Rosewater Dish Saturday. With the exception of Cornet the seeds she played increased in ranking as she moved into the semi final where she faced the #3 seed. The highest seed Kvitova faced was #23 Safarova.
I don't see Lucie achieving much more in her career. She's stuck being the player with a lot of talent but unable to maximize it. Simona Halep has been playing a lot of matches and her ranking can be said to be artificially high because of that. Her performance in today's semi echoed that of her appearance in the FO final. Mentally she's not able to stay with the big hitters. It's as if she gets intimidated and crawls into a safe place in her mind. Bouchard may have an ugly style of play but on grass and hardcourts she will do well because she hits the snot out of the ball from the baseline. I'm not going to talk about how the same people singing Bouchard's praises from the roof tops profess to hate that style of play. I'm not writing that long a piece here. I do think that if Halep continues to plug away and gets a real draw instead of a cupcake draw, a draw that will challenge her to sharpen her skills, she'll win one of the semifinals or finals of majors that she makes.
This Final will say a lot about where the WTA is heading. We'll even have the modern replacements for Justine Henin and Carolos Rodriguez in terms of blatant coaching. IT seems to be true that the more things change the more things stay the same.