A Saturday for Cinderellas

Everywhere you look on the Volvo Car Open drawsheet Saturday there is a story to tell: a trajectory in tennis that is inspiring and unexpected, an untold piece of what makes this sport so engulfing.

Twenty-year-old Genie Bouchard aims to become the first Canadian to win a clay court title on the WTA in over 25 years. Germany’s Andrea Petkovic returns to the state where her Serbian father once played college tennis as a European trying to fit in, buying blue jeans and cowboy boots with the first money he made.

MORE: Saturday Order of Play | Updated Draws | Getting to Know… Cepelova

Belinda Bencic is the youngest player in the draw at 17, and Friday won her fourth match of the tournament having entered it with just three victories – in her entire career. And Jana Cepelova, at 20, won through to the semifinals, her second such victory after shocking two-time defending champion and Serena Williams and world No. 1 in the second round.

In a game that has become increasingly dominated by an older generation (think Serena, Li Na, Maria Sharapova) three of the four semifinalists are under 21 on Saturday (the most since Amelia Island in 2008) and have played each other collectively just twice, Petkovic owning a 2-0 record against Bouchard.

[6] Genie Bouchard (CAN) vs. [14] Andrea Petkovic (GER), 1 pm, Stadium Court
These two have matched up twice in their career, most recently this last fall, a match which Petkovic had to come from behind to win 2-6, 7-5, 6-1 in Luxembourg. Bouchard has only improved since then and is riding the confidence of two massive wins over Venus Williams and Jelena Jankovic this week, but will be the favorite in this match. That will play a factor as the tournament is now seen as anyone’s up for grabs, and there is no doubt that it is Petkovic who has the most experience of these four players, having formerly been in the top 10.

“[Playing Genie] is a big challenge for me, especially now coming back from all the injuries and getting through the tough matches, and I’m playing well,” said Petkovic, who has been out of the sport for fits and spurts over the last two years. “It’s going to be another good match, I think, and I’m really looking forward to it.”

Jana Cepelova (SVK) vs. [Q] Belinda Bencic (SUI), second match, Stadium Court
Both Cepelova and Bencic come in with a wave of confidence having scored multiple upsets, but it might be the 17-year-old from Switzerland who is a bit spent. Bencic has played six matches in seven days, including a long three-setter against Sara Errani Friday afternoon. Cepelova, on the other hand, breezed by countrywoman Daniela Hantuchova.

“This is the first time I’ve played [Bencic]. I don’t know really much (about) her,” said Cepelova, who is without her coach this week. “I would like to be 100 percent prepared and be physically and [mentally] ready, and I would like to play my game and try my best.”