Friday 24 November 2017

Kvitova warns: I still have a lot of work to do

Petra Kvitova celebrates her victory over Eugenie Bouchard in the women's singles final at Wimbledon yesterday
Petra Kvitova celebrates her victory over Eugenie Bouchard in the women's singles final at Wimbledon yesterday

Simon Cambers

When the nine-times Wimbledon champion, Martina Navratilova, said three years ago that she believed Petra Kvitova could one day get close to her record, few people believed her.

There is still a long, long way to go if she is to make it anywhere near but the 24-year-old’s 6-3, 6-0 demolition of Eugenie Bouchard yesterday gave her a second title and the manner of her victory suggests there will be more to come.

There were even a few tears from Kvitova as she paraded the trophy, while a disappointed Bouchard brooded in the background. Kvitova and Navratilova embraced in the locker room afterwards and the former champion tweeted a picture of the pair together, saying: “Amazing power display today.”

The crowd packed into Centre Court came to see a contest and many of them were firmly behind Bouchard, the first Canadian ever to reach a Grand Slam final. Instead, they witnessed a Kvitova masterclass, a performance as good as any here in recent memory. The 20-year-old Bouchard didn’t even play badly.

“It means everything,” said Kvitova, who was close to tears herself as she thanked her team for all their work over the past few years, a period that has seen plenty of ups and downs. “I still have a lot of work to do to have as many titles as Martina but I’ll try to do it. This is my second title and I hope now it will be easier for me. I really wanted to have the trophy again.”

Like many players who won titles young, including Pete Sampras, who took three years to win the second of his 14 Grand Slams, Kvitova found it hard to maintain the consistency people expected from her after her 2011 triumph.

Throughout the tournament, she has seemed more relaxed than usual and the confidence she gained from beating Venus Williams in the third round gave her a renewed belief that she could perhaps win again. The consistency of Bouchard’s game, and her astounding belief at such a young age, threatened to make life tough for her but Kvitova hit a new high that Bouchard was simply unable to live with.

The majority of the crowd may have been pulling for Bouchard, the new darling of the women’s game, but they were left gasping by the ferocity of Kvitova’s serve and in particular her bullet-like returns, often down the middle which had Bouchard always on the back foot. The 20-year-old tried to stand her ground — maybe she should have changed things up by dropping back during the match — but she was bullied backwards and simply had no answer to the brilliance from the other side of the net.

The first set was over in 32 minutes. A huge forehand gave Kvitova the first break for 2-1 and in the next game she then produced the shot of the match as she sliced a backhand cross-court for an unlikely winner to hold for 3-1. She broke again on her way to a 5-2 lead and though Bouchard broke back in the eighth game, Kvitova broke to love to take the set.

The second set was an exhibition from the left-handed Kvitova, who yielded just 10 points in the entire set as Bouchard was left reeling from winner after winner. Having broken for 2-0, she managed it twice more before firing a backhand winner, her 28th in all, to clinch a deserved victory, standing arms aloft, almost in disbelief at her performance, before falling to the turf in celebration.

Kvitova said she had rarely, if ever, played better. “It was definitely one of the best matches of my life, especially in such a big situation. Some of the defensive shots I hit, I almost couldn’t believe it. I was in the zone.”


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