MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Canadian teenager Eugenie Bouchard is amassing quite a collection of stuffed animals at the Australian Open, all gifts from her own personal cheering section nicknamed the "Genie Army."
With nearly every victory this week at Melbourne Park has come a different Australian animal — a kangaroo, koala and kookaburra. After her biggest win of all — defeating No. 14-seeded Ana Ivanovic 5-7, 7-5, 6-2 to reach her first Grand Slam semifinal on Tuesday — one of her admirers from the Genie Army tossed a fuzzy wombat to the court.
"I will create luggage space," she said of her new menagerie. "It's worth it to take my wombat home."
She may have to make room for a trophy, as well, if she wins two more matches. She next faces No. 4-seeded and 2011 French Open champion Li Na on Thursday for a chance to reach the final.
Bouchard's run through the draw has certainly been one of the biggest surprises of the tournament, but it's also not entirely unexpected. Of the 13 teenagers in the main draw at Melbourne Park, none is perhaps as highly touted as the 19-year-old native of Montreal.
The 5-foot-10 (1.78-meter) Bouchard, who hits big off both sides and has a confidence belying her youth, is coming off a breakthrough year that saw her rise from No. 144 in the rankings to No. 32, reach her first WTA Tour final at Osaka and earn recognition as the WTA Newcomer of the Year.
Now, appearing in her very first Australian Open, she's become the first Canadian to reach a major semifinal since Carling Bassett at the U.S. Open in 1984.