Saturday, July 5, 2014
I admit it. I didn’t believe Petra Kvitova would win Wimbledon.
Not because I didn’t think she had the goods. She's won the title before, but since then the sometimes fragile Czech has been the epitome of inconsistency. She came into Wimbledon having lost in the third round of Roland Garros and first round in Melbourne. Between the Slams, it wasn’t much different.
Even after the three-set classic against Venus Williams in the third round where she was only broken once, I thought she still might succumb to a few of those typical “P3tra” matches – first set: blow opponent off the court; second set: cue internal turmoil and lose lead; third set: lose match. But to my surprise, she kept winning and playing strongly. With each match, the 24-year old got more confident. By the final, where she faced first-time finalist Eugenie Bouchard, her game and mentality were on point. But would she be able to play another solid match, the biggest one of them all, from start to finish? That she did.
The way Petra won today was extraordinary. Her 6-3, 6-0 victory over the Canadian was a devastating display of power grass-court tennis. I wrote that it would come down to holding serve, quality returns, and first-strike tennis. Petra landed 68% of her first serves and won 82% of those points. She also won 58% of her return points and had 28 winners to only 12 errors. The consistency of the attack was the biggest surprise today. It’s a tough proposition for any opponent when she has these numbers. Just ask Genie.
For the entire fortnight, the 20-year old was able to step inside the baseline and control the tempo of matches; she fought mightily to play them on her terms. Genie hadn’t lost a set en route to the final. But today, like us, she became an observer of the type of explosive tennis we’d come to expect from Petra. Winners flew past in a flash and serves were pummeled back at her shoe strings. Genie's usually stoic expression melted into confusion and helplessness. All she could do was watch and hope for a let down. It never happened. Unfortunately for Genie, Petra saved her best for last.
Today, Petra made a believer out of me again. I happily accept it.
[Photo(s) credit: Wimbledon twitter]