Petra Kvitova delivers punisher
LONDON -- So clean, so thorough, so ultimately ruthless was Petra Kvitova's dismantling of Eugenie Bouchard for the Wimbledon title Saturday that it left the tournament darling apologizing to the crowd, and made it hard to imagine the now two-time champion not whipping off many more before she is through.
The 6-3, 6-0 pasting was a veteran schooling a child, except that Kvitova is just 24 to Bouchard's 20. And Kvitova is hardly a weathered old-timer in the world of Grand Slam glory, playing in just her second Slam final after winning the title here in 2011.
After the last title, Kvitova admitted she was overwhelmed by the occasion, the immediate rise in expectations, the pressure of a new brand of celebrity in the Czech Republic and beyond. But she has described a process since then in which she now felt ready to deal with it, and certainly looked that way Saturday afternoon with the decisive manner in which she won her second title.
"Hopefully now it's going to be easier for me," Kvitova said.
The story of the match was Kvitova's overwhelming power, a level Bouchard had not experienced in the tournament to this point and perhaps not in some time, so ageless was the champion's performance.
Kvitova dictated play from the start, confounding her opponent on serve by mixing speeds, location and spin to keep the aggressive Bouchard off-balance and giving her no opening to get into the match.
Kvitova broke the young Canadian's serve three times in each of the two sets as the match quickly got out of control for Bouchard, struggling to hold and with virtually no chance to break, normally a strength of hers.
Even when Bouchard did what she had to do, Kvitova's shot-making was so superior, her court coverage so outstanding, she scarcely missed an opportunity.
At 6 feet, Kvitova admitted her superior movement surprised even her against her agile 5-foot-10 opponent.
"I mean, few shots [were] really incredible and I really couldn't believe that I made it actually ...," she said. "Really for the first time I said, 'Oh, my God, this is good. I can really run and put everything back.'"
With Bouchard seemingly hoping against hope to get to an hour, it was to no avail as Kvitova finished her work in a lean and highly efficient 55 minutes.
"She should just watch tapes of this the rest of her life," John McEnroe said of Kvitova on the BBC. "It's hard to put into words how good she was."
Kvitova, who lost just one set en route to the title (to Venus Williams in the third round), lost just five points on her first serve Saturday, was broken just once and had 28 winners overall to just 12 unforced errors. By comparison, Bouchard had just eight winners against four unforced errors and won just 10 points in the final set.
Kvitova won the last seven games of the match and 12 of the last 14 points.
"I love to play finals," she said. "I love to play on the big stadium. This is something really special. I mean, it's not feeling as a tournament for me. It's something more, more, more.
"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 [Republic] and I feel the crowd. My stomach is a little bit funny. [It's] just goose bumps."
Huge cheers erupted at a rare Bouchard winner at the end, a collective groan when she netted a backhand to set up championship point. It was a Kvitova backhand ripped cross-court and unplayable for the final break of serve that served as the ultimate exclamation point as Kvitova collapsed onto her back, soaking up the moment.
The awards ceremony was delayed for about 10 minutes while the roof was closed as Bouchard left the court, followed by Kvitova, the efficiency of the afternoon continuing with the immediate installation of Kvitova's name on the championship board.
You imagined Bouchard sitting in the locker room afterward wondering what had happened and how the dream ended so fast. Instead, she said the situation was even more impactful.
"It was a little odd," she said. "I sat down. I put my jacket on. Just reflected. I was in the engraver's room, so I was watching them work, wishing one day, dreaming that he'll write my name [someday]."
Bouchard was playing in her third straight Grand Slam of the year in which she reached the semifinals or better, the only player to have done so, and she has lost to the eventual champ in all three.
"I have to give credit to my opponent," Bouchard said. "She played unbelievably and didn't give me many opportunities to stay in the rally or do what I do. ...
"I felt I wasn't able to play my game. ... Sometimes your opponent just plays better than you and that's what happened today."
Bouchard said if not for tennis, she would want to be an air traffic controller, so comfortable is she with a pressure-filled environment. But this was one occasion in which even the most sophisticated radar could not have prevented the barrage she was under.
"I feel this is a step in the right direction," said Bouchard in her Centre Court interview to a roar of positive feedback. "I don't know if I deserve all your love today but I really appreciate it."
It was as if Kvitova, somewhat overlooked this tournament and certainly well behind the engaging Bouchard in popularity here, wanted to prove a point in as forceful a manner as possible.
But it was Kvitova's voice cracking as she thanked her coaches and family -- a sincere display of emotion as if she suddenly realized just what it was she had done -- that drew equal approval from appreciative fans.
"I can say this is more special definitely after three years to stand here with the trophy again," Kvitova said. "It is absolutely amazing."
The way Kvitova played makes one wonder where indeed she has been since the 2011 title, her last Grand Slam final, and hard to imagine she won't win more titles here.
At the very least, with the title, Kvitova will rise in the rankings from No. 6 to No. 4, and Bouchard from No. 13 to No. 7.
"I was pretty close to No. 1 and I feel this is something more special, to have this Grand Slam, especially Wimbledon, than to be No. 1," Kvitova said. "I mean, of course the No. 1 means a lot to everyone. For me, I'm just glad that I have this Grand Slam. We will see what the future brings.
"It's nice to be No. 1, for sure. I will try everything what I can to be there."