There have been Gallup polls conducted, per the Daily Mail, that found 15 percent of Americans believe in evolution. Tennis' evolution throughout the 2014 season follows along those same lines, because the Wimbledon semifinals for the both the men and women feature repeat performers and some new blood.
It's not an exponential progression for the sport, but it is one worth monitoring as we reach the end of tennis' fortnight in England. Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Petra Kvitova represent the old guard. Milos Raonic, Grigor Dimitrov, Eugenie Bouchard, Lucie Safarova and Simona Halep are the new era.
Those eight stars will do battle on center court at the All England Club over the next two days to decide the final four who will comprise the men's and women's championship. The ladies got their turn in the spotlight on Thursday, which we are going to look at right now.
|No. 6 Petra Kvitova def. No. 23 Lucie Safarova||7-6 (8-6), 6-1|
|No. 13 Eugenie Bouchard def. No. 3 Simona Halep||7-6 (7-5), 6-2|
Petra Kvitova Cruises to Second Wimbledon Final
Kvitova, the 2011 Wimbledon champion, made easy work of first-time Grand Slam semifinalist Safarova in the first match on Thursday. The 24-year-old has really flown under the radar in this event, mostly because we were so preoccupied with Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova.
Once Williams and Sharapova lost, the focus still didn't shift to Kvitova. It didn't help the lefty that she only played one ranked opponent prior to the semifinals (Venus Williams). She keeps rolling along with a two-set win over Safarova, which you can see in the clip from Wimbledon's Twitter:
Now, though, it's time to start watching Kvitova closely. She's one win away from capturing her second title and the All England Club. Her path to a championship may not be the most difficult in tennis history, but the end result is the same regardless.
This is also good news for tennis. Even though Serena draws American eyeballs, having a former champion go up against a first-time opponent to decide the winner of this year's event can only enhance the profiles of the two women.
Tennis is a sport built around stars. Kvitova's performance certainly warrants inclusion in that group now.
Eugenie Bouchard's Ascent Continues
Who do you want to win the Wimbledon final?
Prior to this year, no Canadian-born player had reached the semifinals at Wimbledon in the Open era (dating back to 1968). With Bouchard on the ladies' side and Raonic on the gentlemen's side, the country has two representatives.
Now, following her straight-set win against Halep, Bouchard will represent her native country in the finals at Wimbledon. The 20-year-old has been building to this moment seemingly all year with semifinal appearances at the Australian Open and French Open.
Bouchard took the next step at the All England Club and seemed to acknowledge that this is the moment she's been inching toward in comments after the win, via Wimbledon's Twitter:
"I never say I'm surprised [by my achievements] because I put in a lot of hard work. It's been years in the making" - @geniebouchard— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) July 3, 2014
Making Bouchard's run more impressive, especially compared to her finals opponent, is that she's defeated four top-25 opponents to get here, including top-10 players Angelique Kerber and Halep on back-to-back days.
There's still one more match to go against Kvitova, who certainly knows what this stage is all about, but this Wimbledon has the makings of being a coronation for Bouchard as the next great tennis superstar.
If you want to talk sports, hit me up on Twitter: @adamwells1985.