Scrambling along the baseline in the Wimbledon women’s final to retrieve a low-flying volley, Petra Kvitova took one hand off her racket and flicked a sliced backhand past a stunned Eugenie Bouchard at the net.
The shot gave her a 3-1 first-set lead and “made me realize I was in the zone,” Kvitova said after striking 28 winners -- 20 more than Bouchard -- to win her second Wimbledon title in four years. “I thought, ‘OK, that’s not normal.’”
The sixth-seeded Czech dominated Bouchard from start to finish in the 55-minute match, which she won 6-3, 6-0. Bouchard, a 20-year-old from Montreal and the first Canadian to play in a Grand Slam tennis singles final, was overwhelmed as her left-handed opponent dictated the action with her serve and angled returns.
“I knew I had to go for every shot that I played,” Kvitova said.
Roger Federer plays top-seeded Novak Djokovic of Serbia for the men’s title today. Federer, a 32-year-old Swiss who is trying to become the only man to win the Wimbledon title eight times, leads the 2011 champion from Serbia 18-16 in previous matches.
“When she’s on, she’s very tough to beat,” Bouchard said in a news conference. “She put the pressure on me, and took away my chances. I definitely got outplayed.”
Forty-two percent of Kvitova’s booming serves did not come back, compared to 25 percent for Bouchard. The six-foot (1.82-meter) Kvitova won 16 of 17 forehand returns, compared with seven out of 15 for her opponent.
“We knew going in this was going to be first-strike tennis,” Nick Saviano, Bouchard’s coach, said after the match. “The serving was too good.”
Kvitova, 24, has yet to drop a set in the two major finals she’s played, both at Wimbledon. Three years ago, she defeated 2004 winner Maria Sharapova 6-3, 6-4 to clinch her first Wimbledon title.
After that victory, Kvitova struggled with the weight of expectation and extra pressure, she said yesterday. Fellow Czech native and nine-time Wimbledon singles champion Martina Navratilova predicted at that time that Kvitova might win more titles than her.
After a difficult season, which started with a first-round loss at the Australian Open followed by a third-round exit at Roland Garros, she regained her form on the grass at Wimbledon. In the third round, Kvitova was two points away from losing to five-time champion Venus Williams before fighting back. That win boosted her confidence for the rest of the tournament, she said last week.
Other than Venus and her sister, five-time winner Serena Williams, Kvitova is the first woman since Steffi Graf to win more than one Wimbledon singles title. The German won the last of her seven Wimbledon championships in 1996.
A junior Wimbledon champion two years ago, Bouchard will move to a career-best No. 7 on the women’s WTA tour when the new rankings are released tomorrow, while Kvitova will jump two spots to No. 4.
“It’s been a good experience for me, my first Grand Slam final,” said Bouchard, who made back-to-back semifinals at the Australian Open and French Open earlier this season. “I’ve come a long way, and I am proud of what I achieved this week, and this year.”
Kvitova said her second Wimbledon triumph “was even more special than the first one because I am enjoying it more.”
“Nobody really believed in me that I can really be at my best again and that I can win another Grand Slam,” she said.
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