Wimbledon 2012: Brilliant Serena Williams powers her way to victory over defending champion Petra Kvitova
SERENA Williams produced one of her most brilliant and brutal Wimbledon performances to send defending champion Petra Kvitova home at the quarter-final stage.
The match-up between the current and four-time champion was arguably the most eagerly anticipated of the tournament and, ever one for the big stage, Williams rose to the occasion.
Despite her ominous progress through the draw, it had been thought by many that Kvitova - eight years younger - would strike a blow for the new generation with a win under the Centre Court roof.
But the 13-time grand slam winner had other ideas, blasting the Czech off court with a series of punishing winners - 27 in total - as she won 6-3 7-5.
Kvitova did rally in the second set and started to hit the lines with more regularity, but with Williams serving in a machine-like fashion - 13 aces and an 86% success rate on her first - she needed a superhuman effort to get over the line.
She was unable to summon that, and defeat had been on the cards from the off, with Williams, once she had recovered from love-30 in the opening game, assuming total control.
Taking confidence from that early escape, she was almost unplayable on serve in the subsequent games, hitting winners that were pinned to the lines when not blasting Kvitova off the court with her first shot.
The break she needed to cement her dominance duly arrived in the sixth game - a wide backhand validating the second of three break points - and she held serve twice more herself to see the set out.
Such had been Williams' dominance that her first genuine error did not arrive until the 11th game when she wildly sent a forehand volley off court when 30-15 behind.
She was finding Kvitova harder to deal with, with the Czech striking the ball a lot better, never more so than when she resisted a strong challenge to her serve in the fifth game of the second.
Although Williams could not find a break point, she was at deuce twice and Kvitova needed to hold her nerve - particularly in the thick of a thrilling 16-shot rally - to stay in contention.
It appeared to be worth it when Kvitova earned herself a break and set point in the 10th game, but after failing to take it she fell to pieces, losing serve immediately after from 30-love.
The crucial point in the game was inexplicable too, planting a routine one-hander into the net after Williams had shanked a return.
That was all the encouragement Williams needed and she duly served out for the match, hitting three aces in the process.