Monday 22 January 2018

Kvitova serves up masterclass


In front of a father who wept unashamedly on Centre Court, Petra Kvitova shocked Maria Sharapova with the power and variety of her tennis to become the first left-handed women's champion at Wimbledon since her compatriot Martina Navratilova 21 years ago.

Kvitova, from the small village of Fulnek in the east of the Czech Republic, was only a few months old when Navratilova was playing in her ninth consecutive Wimbledon final, and the grand dame of the game was there to see the eighth seed beat the favoured Russian 6-3 6-4 in just an hour and 25 minutes.

"You're seeing a really, really special talent," the three-times men's champion John McEnroe said. Bookmakers have already installed her as the favourite, ahead of Serena Williams and Sharapova, for next year's Wimbledon.

Most of the 6,000 citizens of Fulnek watched their famous inhabitant win tennis's biggest crown on a large screen in the town square, and she said that an hour later her emotional father, the deputy mayor of Fulnek, was "still crying". Sharapova, deflated but gracious, was unstinting in her praise for the victor. "She was hitting really powerful winners, hitting deeper and harder [than me]," the 2004 champion said. "That's her strength."

Kvitova's portside tennis, full of vim and subtlety, stunned the fifth seed, who hadn't dropped a set en route to the final. The winner didn't raid the net like Navratilova used to, but her left-handedness unsettled Sharapova (Ann Jones is the only other southpaw to win the title here).

Although her English is faltering, Kvitova did her best to express her joy at winning. "It's still an unbelievable feeling," she said. "Maybe I'll accept it after, I don't know, some days."

Kvitova finished the match with her only ace, down the middle, but said she did not quite take in the importance of the moment at the time. "When I had 40-love, I was just going for the point, and I believed [in] myself. But I did not think that I had match ball. I was so happy."

It has been a while since the men and women's champions danced at the Wimbledon ball -- which is just as well for Kvitova who revealed she "can't dance" -- but she can certainly play tennis.


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