Wimbledon 2014 Women's Semifinal: Bouchard vs. Halep Preview and Prediction

Brendan O'Meara@@BrendanOMearaFeatured ColumnistJuly 2, 2014

Wimbledon 2014 Women's Semifinal: Bouchard vs. Halep Preview and Prediction

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    Ben Curtis/Associated Press

    The women’s semifinal between Eugenie Bouchard and Simona Halep is a dream matchup and a foreshadowing of the next generation of women’s talent. (These two are like a couple of avoxes; they barely make a noise when they play.)

    Bouchard has proven to be the slayer of the slayers of champions. She defeated Alize Cornet in the fourth round after Cornet defeated Serena Williams. Bouchard followed that up by beating Angelique Kerber, who defeated Maria Sharapova in her fourth-round match.

    Halep has been surgical and rattled off 11 straight games in her quarterfinal match against Sabine Lisicki (this after being down 1-4 in the first set). Halep is a French Open finalist and has her eyes set on the Wimbledon final.

    This could be the match of the tournament, and the likely winner of the whole thing may come out of this semifinal pairing.

Who Has the Historical Edge?

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    Pavel Golovkin/Associated Press

    Simona Halep has the edge 1-0 over Bouchard. The two met at the BNP Paribas Open in the round of 16 in March of this year, a hard-court match that took Halep three sets to win, 6-2, 1-6, 6-4.

    It took one hour and 39 minutes, and it was about as evenly matched as it could get. Bouchard had six double faults, and Halep won 70 percent of her second-serve return points to Bouchard’s 59 percent.

    This will be just the second time these two meet, but you get the sense that they are going to be meeting in many finals and semifinals for the greater part of the next 10 years.

Bouchard at Wimbledon

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    Ben Curtis/Associated Press

    Eugenie Bouchard, while only 20 years old, is right at home at Wimbledon. She was the 2012 girls’ champion after beating Ukraine’s Elena Svitolina, 6-2, 6-2.

    In 2013, Bouchard bounced out in the third round in her first try on the women’s circuit. Now, in 2014, she’s sitting on a breakthrough. She’s defeated some names that defeated BIG names to reach the semifinals—her third straight trip to a major semifinal in 2014.

    She defeated Alize Cornet (who defeated Serena Williams) and Angelique Kerber (who defeated Maria Sharapova).

    Bouchard hasn’t had the easiest run to the semifinals, often going deep into all her matches. But Bouchard hasn’t dropped a set thus far and is a star on the rise.

Halep at Wimbledon

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    Pavel Golovkin/Associated Press

    Simona Halep, like Bouchard, is coming of age in 2014. In three previous Wimbledons, Halep hasn’t been past the second round. This year, she’s been rolling. 

    Unlike Bouchard, Halep has dropped a set, but in her wins, she’s been totally dominant. In Set 2 of her fourth-round and quarterfinal matches, Halep won 6-0, 6-0 against Zarina Diyas and Sabine Lisicki.

    That means she steps on her opponent’s throat and doesn’t let them hang around long enough to get confident.

The Biggest X-Factors

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    Pavel Golovkin/Associated Press

    Bouchard and Halep are evenly matched and are playing some of the most confident tennis in the world.

    Bouchard has a tendency to drag out her sets. She has come out on top in every set she’s played so far, and that’s in spite of the mental pressure she puts on herself to hold serve against breaks. In the case of her match against Alize Cornet, she earned a break against the odds, held serve, then buried her opponent. Her mental tenacity is unmatched.

    Halep, on the other hand, tends to have a challenging first set followed by an uncompromising second set. In her straight-set wins—of which she has four—the scores in the second and deciding sets were: 6-2, 6-1, 6-0, 6-0. It’s as if she says, “You had your fun in the first set, now I’m getting bored with you.” She swats at these players like they’re flies.

    What will it come down to? Bouchard being able to grind down Halep since it is likely Halep won’t have the capacity to smother Bouchard in the decisive sets.

    Halep has had her left leg wrapped tight this tournament. It hasn’t seemed to bother her, but if whatever is underneath that wrap comes undone, that will greatly affect this match’s outcome.

Bouchard Will Win If...

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    Ben Curtis/Associated Press

    She doesn’t wear down mentally.

    There are no signs suggesting Bouchard will break down mentally, but after a while, defeating players like Alize Cornet and Angelique Kerber to get this far can take its toll. Now Bouchard faces the French Open runner-up. 

    Other players have done the dirty work of defeating the heavy favorites in front of Bouchard. That can be seen as a knock. Cornet beat Serena Williams. Kerber beat Maria Sharapova, thus thwarting a rematch of the French Open semis.

    Bouchard’s groundstrokes have been scorching, and her volleys at the net have had edge. If she doesn’t get flustered in the face of the stoic Simona Halep, Bouchard may break through to her first major final as a pro.

Halep Will Win If...

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    Pavel Golovkin/Associated Press

    She wins the first set.

    Halep has been an assassin in decisive sets. With the exception of her second-round match against Lesia Tsurenko, Halep has disposed of her opponents as if they were amateurs.

    In her last two matches, Halep has had nine and 11 unforced errors. Her matches have gotten cleaner as she’s gone on, and she’ll need to put that kind of pressure on Bouchard. Giving Bouchard easy points is an easy way to lose against her. Bouchard doesn’t need any help and can throw the hammer down when points slip away from her opponent.

    Halep is 15-2 at the majors this year and has a major final under her belt, that’s why…


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    Pavel Golovkin/Associated Press

    Simona Halep will win in three sets.

    With a record of 15-2 in the majors and a berth in the French Open final (where she lost in three sets to Maria Sharapova), Halep is on the verge of something special.

    The same case can be made for Bouchard, even Chris Chase of USA Today figures it’s either Bouchard or Halep who wins the whole thing, "Still, I like either Halep or Bouchard to take the championship. Both have made great strides in the past 12 months and the inevitable conclusion is a Grand Slam title. Why not now?"

    Halep has committed just 68 unforced errors to Bouchard’s 90. That said, Bouchard has 137 winners to Halep’s 104. Bouchard has played more games and is, on the whole, more aggressive, yet it will be Halep’s coolness under pressure that will vault her to the final.