Montreal's Eugenie Bouchard eliminated from Australian Open semifinal
Wednesday, Jan 22, 2014 04:00 am
MELBOURNE, Australia - Montreal's Eugenie Bouchard is out of the Australian Open.
China's Li Na defeated Bouchard 6-2, 6-4 on Thursday in the semifinal of the women's singles tournament.
The 19-year-old Bouchard is the first Canadian woman to reach the final four of a Grand Slam tournament in 30 years.
"I'm proud of how I've improved as a player throughout the tournament. But I'm never satisfied with losing. I'm always disappointed," said Bouchard, who received a fifth stuffed Aussie animal — an Emu named Sheila — from her Australian fans dubbed the Genie Army.
"I always want to go further and do better. I wouldn't say I exceeded my expectations, but I'm happy with how I did."
Li, the No. 4-seed and the 2011 French Open champion, is the only major winner and the highest-ranked player still in contention after the fourth-round upsets of Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova. Defending champion Victoria Azarenka's lost in the quarter-final to Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland.
Li will face Dominika Cibulkova in the final, after the Slovakian defeated No. 5 seed Radwanska 6-1, 6-2 in the second semifinal later Thursday.
Bouchard was determined to build off the success she experienced at the Australian Open.
"I've been working hard my whole life to do this, play at Grand Slams and do well," said Bouchard. "It's not an overnight thing. So I'm just going to go back to the practice courts and keep working hard."
Li, who lost last year's final to Azarenka, was aggressive from the start against Bouchard, who started nervously and didn't win a point in her first three service games.
Fittingly, Li finished off the match with a backhand crosscourt, one of 16 backhand winners in the match and her biggest weapon against Bouchard.
"I think maybe she will be best player in the world. But today (I'm) so lucky," said Li during a court-side interview after the match.
Li jokingly apologized to the Genie Army after the match, undoubtedly increasing her own huge support base at Melbourne Park.
"Sorry about that," she said. "If you guys be happy, I will go home."
Bouchard said she changed her strategy to get out of her early slump.
"I just wanted to get into the match a little bit more. I felt like she was really hitting her shots. I was just letting her do all these winners side to side, it wasn't really my game," said Bouchard. "I tried to get into the rallies more, try to step in a little bit more, and try to put more pressure on her because she was just putting a lot of pressure on me.
"She didn't give me much breathing space, much room to do what I want to do on the court. I tried to put pressure, but she just played too good at moments."
Earlier in the day, Toronto's Daniel Nestor and Serbian partner Nenad Zimonjic were beaten by American Eric Butorac and Raven Klaasen of South Africa 6-2, 6-4 in the semifinal of the men's doubles tournament.
The defeat leaves the 41-year-old Nestor to concentrate on the mixed-doubles event after winning 12 straight matches and winning Australian titles in Brisbane and Sydney with two different partners.
"This was a little bit of a let down, but all credit to them," said Nestor. "They came out firing an showed why they were in the semifinals. They were going for their shots and making them.
"They played really well, very aggressive. We started slow and that probably gave them confidence."
The match lasted just 64 minutes, with Zimonjic losing serve twice in the opening set.
Nestor, holder of a record 83 career doubles titles, was unable to carry the entire load as he and Zimonjic re-united this season after a few seasons with other partners.
Butorac and Klaasen are an unseeded team which had knocked out Australian Patrick Rafter and Lleyton Hewitt plus the world No. 1 Bryan brothers from the United States.
"We didn't assert ourselves and that's what the top teams should do," said Nestor. "On paper we were the best team remaining in the semifinals.
"This was a chance lost to possibly win a Grand Slam - and who knows when we might get that chance again."
Nestor won his only Australian men's trophy in 1998 with Mark Knowles of the Bahamas, the first of his four finals at the event.
Nestor and Zimonjic finished with 19 winners but never earned a break point and were broken three times.
— With files from The Associated Press.