Saturday 24 February 2018

Kvitova denies Czech mate to earn final date with Bouchard

Petra Kvitova on her way to winning the first set during victory over Czech Republic compatriot Lucie Safarova. Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
Petra Kvitova on her way to winning the first set during victory over Czech Republic compatriot Lucie Safarova. Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Mick Cleary

Former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova struck a blow for the restoration of the natural order when she ended the anarchy of previous days in dispatching her lower-ranked Czech compatriot Lucie Safarova, 7-6 6-1, to reach the women's final for the second time.

Seeds had been toppled, reputations had been battered, but the gaggle of theatrical stars in the Royal Box, from Maggie Smith to Colin Firth, had little need to tell these two players that the show must go on. After the shocks and upsets, there was a stage to claim, a performance to give, applause to be milked and an ovation to take.

These close friends and Fed Cup colleagues were determined to lift the downbeat Centre Court mood of the previous afternoon and illustrate that there was tennis life beyond the travails of Andy Murray. Kvitova earned her moment in the spotlight, beaming with delight at the prospect of what lay ahead.

Initially, it had been a tricky encounter, the first time two Czechs had met in a Grand Slam semi-final, but the 24-year-old had too much class, too much clout to be denied, surging through to victory after a testing opening set in 1hr 20min.


Kvitova would know how Murray was feeling for she, too, had had a career setback after winning her title as a 21-year-old in beating Maria Sharapova in 2011. She struggled to live up to her billing.

She had been within a whisker of becoming world No 1 but slipped back. The acclaim and scrutiny weighed heavily and it has taken her three years to return to this point.

"For sure, there have been ups and downs since then," Kvitova admitted. "I had to change myself off court, get used to the pressure. I won it quite young and it was difficult to handle. It takes time to get used to being favourite. I am more grown-up now, definitely.

"I will do everything I can to win again."

In the other semi-final, there were only muted celebrations from ice-cool Canadian Eugenie Bouchard on reaching her first Grand Slam decider. The message from the 20-year-old was clear – the job is not finished.

Bouchard defeated third seed Simona Halep 7-6 (7/5) 6-2. When she finally clinched victory on her sixth match point for the biggest win of her life, Bouchard briefly raised her arms and gave a small fist pump.

"I'm waiting for a big moment to go nuts," she said. "I feel like my job is not done here, so there's no need for a huge celebration because I'm still working. I still have another match.

"It's not a surprise to me. I expect good results like this. So for me, I was like, 'Okay, good'. It's a step in the right direction." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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