Thursday’s women’s semifinals at Wimbledon will not trigger great name recognition from the general fan. Maybe even the ardent tennis fan.
Newcomers are beginning to emerge in tennis, and this year’s women’s bracket is no exception.
Two barely twenty-somethings, Simona Halep and Eugenie Bouchard, completed the women’s semifinal field Wednesday with impressive victories.
Halep beat last year’s finalist, Sabine Lisicki of Germany, 6-4, 6-0, and Bouchard scored a 6-3, 6-4 win over another German, Angelique Kerber, who had taken out Maria Sharapova on Tuesday.
They will play each other in the semifinals, and the winner will face the winner of the match between Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic and her countrywoman Lucie Safarova.
Of the remaining semifinalists, Kvitova is best known because of her 2011 title here.
Halep is 22 and from Romania. She spotted Lisicki a 4-1 lead and won the next 11 games.
“I was a little bit lost on the court. But in the beginning only,” Halep said.
She is among the more improved players on the tour. Last year at this time, she was ranked No. 32. Now she is No. 3 and if she beats Bouchard, she will be No. 2. Serena Williams will retain her No. 1 ranking no matter what the women’s outcome is here.
Bouchard is 20. She is a former Wimbledon junior champion from Canada. She has improved greatly this year too. At Wimbledon last year, she was No. 66. Now, after her quarterfinal win Wednesday, she is No. 8.
She also made it to the semifinals at the Australian and French Opens this year.
Halep and Bouchard played at Indian Wells in March and Halep won in three sets.
“My favorite thing about England is Wimbledon,” Bouchard said. “It’s like a magical two weeks here. I hope I can stay a few more days.”
Halep lost the French Open final to Sharapova in three sets. Sharapova had beaten Bouchard in three sets in the semifinals.
Despite their youth, each player carried a bit of a swagger in her post-match news conference.
Said Halep: “I can handle the pressure.”
Said Bouchard, “I played here last year. I won a match on Centre Court. I made the third round. Even last year, I felt like I belonged.”
The best-known players in the draw are long gone. China’s Li Na went out in the second round, Venus and Serena Williams in the third and Sharapova in the fourth.