World number 46 Eugenie Bouchard showcased her potential in 2014 when she reached the semifinals at the Australian Open and French Open losing to eventual champions Li Na and Maria Sharapova respectively, and she backed up those runs with a trip to her first Grand Slam final at Wimbledon losing to Petra Kvitova in emphatic fashion. However, it was intriguing to see if the Canadian could potentially go one step further in 2015 but she was unable to back up her results and a slide down the rankings followed in the last two seasons, however, at the Apia International Sydney, Bouchard is rediscovering her best form, and she is through to her first semifinal since reaching the BMW Malaysian Open final last March losing to Elina Svitolina.
Bouchard's semifinal opponent will be the consistent and talented sixth seed from Great Britain, Johanna Konta. The British number one is competing in the city of her birthplace, and her rapid rise up the rankings has been nothing short of brilliance. Konta reached the fourth round of the US Open in 2015, and she backed this up by advancing to her first Grand Slam semifinal at the Australian Open last year, defeating Venus Williams in the first round but her refreshing run came to a halt losing to eventual champion Angelique Kerber.
The pair of former Australian Open semifinalists began their campaigns in Brisbane and Shenzhen respectively. The Canadian lost to last year's surprise French Open quarterfinalist Shelby Rogers in the first round in Brisbane and Konta lost to eventual champion Katerina Siniakova in the semifinals in Shenzhen.
Bouchard's route to the semifinals
The former world number five began her campaign in Sydney against last year's Australian Open quarterfinalist Zhang Shuai, recording a straight sets, 7-6 (1), 6-2 victory over Shuai, and in the second round, Bouchard was up against third seed and 2014 Australian Open finalist Dominika Cibulkova, and the 22-year-old carried on her remarkable record over the Slovakian, defeating Cibulkova for the fourth time in five meetings in straight sets, 6-4, 6-3. The 2014 Wimbledon finalist continued her remarkable run in Sydney by not dropping a set and defeating three-time Grand Slam quarterfinalist Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, 6-2, 6-3 to reach the semifinals.
Konta's route to the semifinals
The Brit's progress through to the semifinals has been serene like Bouchard, the sixth seed has not dropped a set en route to the semifinals. Konta eased past the Russian-born Australian Arina Rodionova, 6-3, 6-4, and in the second round, Konta defeated another Russian-born Australian, Daria Gavrilova in emphatic fashion, 6-1, 6-3. In the quarterfinals, the world number 10 took advantage of her draw by defeating world number one Angelique Kerber's conqueror, Daria Kasatkina in straight sets, 6-3, 7-5.
Bouchard and Konta have met on one occasion, and it was on the hallowed turfs of Wimbledon in the second round. The British number one defeated Monica Puig in the previous round which was her first victory at SW19 but Bouchard ended Konta's campaign in the second round in three sets, 6-3, 1-6, 6-1.
Who reaches the final?
A resurgent Bouchard is playing her best tennis in a long while, and the Canadian will be a dangerous floater in the draw at the Australian Open as an unseeded player. The 22-year-old's serve and forehand has been firing on all cylinders, however, she has had a few tricky moments in some of her matches, especially with Cibulkova, as the duo were trading breaks in the opening set but the former world number five weathered the storm and came through tough spots in the match.
Konta's coaching team has changed since the conclusion of last season, and she is working with Belgian coach Wim Fissette, the former coach of four-time Grand Slam champion Kim Clijsters, Victoria Azarenka and Simona Halep. The partnership has the credentials of getting Konta further to the next step, and the former world number 10 claimed her first singles title last year. Konta's serve and backhand have been a weapon which has been key to her success last year.
This is the second of the two women's semifinal matches scheduled on Thursday, and this encounter will take place at not before 8:30 pm local time in the Ken Rosewall Arena, and the winner of this match will face 2013 champion and second seed Agnieszka Radwanska or Barbora Strycova in the final.
Prediction: Konta in three sets