Wimbledon 2014: Devastating Kvitova ends Bouchard dream to win 2nd title
Wimbledon 2014: Petra Kvitova wins her second title at SW19 thanks to a 6-3 6-0 win over Eugenie Bouchard in 55 minutes
It would be very neat for the headline writers to attach the rather French sobriquet of ‘ingenue’ to the charming 20-year-old woman from the English-French quarter of Canada. For her lovely name, Eugenie Bouchard, is simply made for it.
But young as she is, and just two years after winning the Junior title at the most famous tennis tournament in the world, Bouchard is anything but your typical ‘ingenue’.
Since she started the year ranked at 32, she has become the only woman on the senior tour to reach at least the semi-finals of all three Grand Slams.
Her Australian and French success took her to a seeding of No13 for Wimbledon and she was already guaranteed to make her top-10 debut next week. Should she win the title—and there were plenty who thought she might do so—she would be up to No6.
The expectations for Bouchard had undoubtedly been boosted by her performance through the tournament, taking out top-level opponents such as No9 Angelique Kerber and one of the form players of the last 12 months, No3 Simona Halep. She had the tennis on court and the demeanour off court of a champion.
But that was to reckon without the tall powerful woman on the other side of the net. Petra Kvitova may not have been the name on everyone’s lips for the title this year, but then nor was she when won the title in 2011 as a 21-year old.
With a game apparently designed for grass—an attacking, first-strike, left-handed shot-maker propelled by long legs on a 6ft frame—many felt her 2011 run would open the floodgates. She had reached the quarter-finals or better here for the last five years, and in that winning year, she topped out at No2 in the rankings, and went on to pick up five more titles, including the WTA Championships.
However, she struggled to cope with the fame and fortune that came to her, and went on to win two titles in each of the following years. So far in 2014, she had yet even to reach a final.
But there was no question she had found a rich vein of form on her favourites surface, and she had also beaten Bouchard in their only previous meeting. It happened to be in the Canadian’s home tournament in Toronto and Kvitova had beaten the newcomer for the loss of just five games.
However, Bouchard had come on in leaps and bounds since: So yes, many thought she could go all the way.
In the event, the Kvitova who walked onto court with her huge bouquet of flowers was much the same as the one who had walked into the same arena three years ago to take on the favourite, Maria Sharapova. On that day, the Czech stunned Wimbledon and her opponent with a stunning performance of big-hitting, winner-packed tennis to take her first and only Grand Slam title, 6-3, 6-4.
This time, she had promised to come out on the attack and take the initiative away from Bouchard, and the onslaught began almost immediately, although to her credit, Bouchard tried to reply in kind with big returns of serve and deep baseline shots.
The Canadian held the opening game with little trouble, but Kvitova showed her hand with an ace, a forehand winner and a speedy first game and then pummelled the Canadian’s serve with backhand cross-court winners to earn two break points. A massive forehand did the job and she resisted a couple of deuces to take a 3-1 lead.
Bouchard was in trouble again in the fifth, double faulting to offer two more break chances, but she dug deep, fired off a stunning forehand and fought through three deuces and another break point before holding.
But already Kvitova looked unstoppable. Not only was she going for her shots on her own serve, she was going after every serve of her opponent, scoring points at will with cross-court backhands and forehands. Her speed through the court was quite exceptional and the support of the crowd in trying to lift Bouchard was now tempered with rounds of cheering at the quality of the former champion’s shot-making.
It was another forehand winner from Kvitova that took another break for 5-2 before her only wayward game of the match gave a glimmer of hope to the Canadian for a quick break back. It was short-lived: Kvitova pounded three cross-court winners, then missed a couple, before making one final winner to break for the set, 6-3.
There was no let-up, either. The Czech broke immediately with a backhand onto Bouchard’s baseline and then held for 2-0 with a 113mph ace. She had so far dropped only five points on her first serve and had made 11 points out of 13 at the net. But her attacking tactics were clear in her winners to errors: 21 to 10. Bouchard had made only three errors, but had also made few inroads.
Even in the rare longer rallies, Kvitova seemed now to come out on top, and a running forehand cross sealed the next break before she broke to love for 5-0.
The rain clouds were gathering over Centre Court in a hurry, and perhaps that was Kvitova’s final incentive to finish this off quickly. So for good measure, she broke again, converting her first match-point with what had been the stand-out shot of the match, her cross-court backhand, to take the match, 6-0. It had taken her just 55 minutes, the quickest final in 31 years.
It was a poignant moment. She dropped her racket where she stood, just inside the baseline and began the short journey to her player’s box—becoming the first champion to use the gate installed especially for this moment—to embrace team and father who, she proudly announced, celebrated his birthday tomorrow.
The Centre Court always great to play on. I feel really like at home
It was poignant, too, as the rain started and the usual ceremony proceedings were put on hold while they closed the roof. Bouchard made a quiet exit but was directed, she later admitted, to the engraving room where she watched as they put her opponent’s name on the trophy.
Yet she was as composed in her post-loss press as the most experienced player on the tour: “I felt like I started well, and was in there. But I didn’t feel like I was able to play my game.
“She really took the chances away from me and was really putting a lot of pressure on me. I didn’t have that many opportunities. But sometimes your opponent just plays better than you, and that’s what happened today.”
For Kvitova, after her seesawing fortunes since 2011, it was a sweet moment: “It means everything, definitely. I mean, it’s a Wimbledon.
“Tennis here is tennis history. The Centre Court always great to play on. I feel really like at home. I was really up and down after my title here 2011. [But] I was still working hard, believe in myself. My team believed in me as well. We did good job and I’m just glad I have it for a second time.”
She was asked if she felt she was “in the zone”, and she had to agree: “Definitely I was in the zone, but I was still thinking it is the final and I knew the emotion. I can say it’s a little bit like a Fed Cup when I’m playing in the Czech and I feel the crowd. My stomach is a little bit funny. It just goosebumps.
“When I won the first set, I said, OK, I still have to do the same work, but I was a little bit worried if I can really do it for all match. But I did it—yeah!”
There is no doubt that Bouchard will be back in a Grand Slam final soon, and she will eventually see her own name engraved on a trophy. But this, the new champion’s favourite tournament, throws Kvitova back in the frame for great things—and this time, one senses she will not let her ambitions go unfulfilled.