Kvitova Serves Up First Grand Slam Title
Published July 02, 2011 12:00
LONDON, England - Since her breakthrough run to her first Grand Slam semifinal a year ago, they had been talking about her as a future Grand Slam champion - well, the future is here. Petra Kvitova's arsenal was on full display on Saturday afternoon as she won her first major title at Wimbledon, beating Maria Sharapova in a big-hitting final on Centre Court, 63 64.
Kvitova, the No.8 seed - the only Top 10 seed in the Open Era never to win a major - won her first four rounds in straight sets but was pushed to three sets in the quarters and semis, and with Sharapova seeded No.5 and not losing a single set in her first six matches, and with the Russian having won their only previous meeting too, the odds seemed to be weighing against Kvitova.
But the 21-year-old Czech left-hander was on fire on the day. She got the critical break for 4-2 in the first set when Sharapova hit two straight double faults from 30-all, eventually serving the set out at love. The second set was closer as the two women twice traded breaks early on, but Kvitova broke again for 4-3, and two games later found herself serving for it at 5-4, the biggest game of her life.
A big backhand down the line, a big forehand down the line, a Sharapova return into the net and a huge ace up the middle - her first ace of the match - sealed it.
"It's hard to find words standing here with the trophy and seeing all of the great players in the Royal Box," Kvitova told Sue Barker on court. "I was nervous, because I thought I could win Wimbledon, but I just focused on each point."
"Unfortunately there's only one winner at the end of the day, but a really big congratulations to Petra," Sharapova commented. "It's a wonderful victory and she played a wonderful tournament. Even though I would have liked to be holding the big one today, I'll be back for it and hoping to hold it again soon."
Kvitova is the youngest player to win a major since a 20-year-old Ana Ivanovic won the French Open three years ago. She's the first lefty to win a Grand Slam title since Monica Seles won the 1996 Australian Open, and the first lefty to win Wimbledon since Czech-born American Martina Navratilova in 1990.
"I knew I had to be the first one to play hard and make the points. I tried it and I did it," Kvitova said. "I felt normal before the match. I was speaking with my coaches and we said I should play like it's a fourth round match. I was focused only on the point and the game and not on the final and the medal.
"It's still an unbelievable feeling. Maybe I'll accept it after some days."
Kvitova was asked about last year's semifinal run. "Last year I didn't have many chances to win. Serena played so well. I was young and didn't think I could beat her. I don't know what was different, because today I felt I could win."
Sharapova was playing her fifth Grand Slam final and is now 3-2 in those. Having reached her first major final in almost three and a half years, and for the first time since her nine-month shoulder injury lay-off from August 2008 to May 2009, she will rise from No.6 to No.5 when the new WTA rankings are released.
"It's still a big step considering my results here the last few years," Sharapova said. "My game is improving, and that gives me a tremendous amount of confidence going forward. We still have many tournaments this year and the next and the following - I just want to be a better player and keep working."
Sharapova was asked whether Kvitova's win was a changing of the guard. "You're always going to see a younger generation rise up. They're going to step up at one point. It happened to be in this tournament. We'll see whether that continues for the years to come - I mean, for this tournament certainly, yeah."