So… what do we make of the Wimbledon women’s final? Did Petra Kvitova put a fierce beat down on Maria Sharapova and introduce herself to the world as the new face in women’s tennis?
Or did Sharapova just blow it?
A little from column A, and a little from column B.
Kvitova was a force on the court this afternoon. The 21 year-old lefty from the Czech Republic looked like a seasoned veteran on the court as she dominated Sharapova with a flurry from start to finish.
She broke Sharapova’s serve five times and hit almost double the winners as Sharapova. More than anything what was most impressive about Kvitova was her poise and resilience on the court.
Even with a skittish serve (Sharapova broke her three times… but we’ll get to her serve in a moment) Kvitova never let it affect her play. She came back and hit winner after winner and ran Sharapova around the court at times.
She overpowered Sharapova by turning defense into offense on the return end and by getting her first serve in at a more frequent rate than Sharapova. She seemed in complete control no matter the instance and limited her mistakes.
It was reminiscent of a performance from a young 17 year-old Russian who took down the world’s number one player Serena Williams in an impressive straight sets match and took the tennis world by storm.
The player of whom I speak is Maria Sharapova.
After that 2004 performance Sharapova shot to stardom and became the fresh face in women’s tennis. Seven years later we might be seeing history repeat itself as this could be the start of something very special for Kvitova and finally women’s tennis could have a player to hang their hat on and carry the sport into the future.
Speaking of Sharapova…
As much as I love Maria and what she’s brought to the game as far as on the court and with her image I’m starting to get a same old story feel when it comes to her.
That same story is her up and down serve that has kept her in hot water and is costing her win after win. She had shoulder surgery almost three years ago that cost her appearances at the 08 U.S. Open and 09 Australian Open. Ever since she has returned her serve has killed her game.
In the last ten tournaments she’s only made it past the 4th round three times (granted in the last two tournaments she’s made it to the Semi-finals and the Finals) and for the most part its been due to her lackluster serve.
Take today for example; she was broken 5 times out of nine by Kvitova, that was due to a first serve that she only won 58% of the time, which led to winning 27% of her second serve, which led to 6 double faults… now apply that to the last 2 ½ years and you see what her main issue is.
Sharapova has brought herself back to the top 5 thanks in part to her aggressive style of play and taking advantage of one of the weakest women’s fields in years. However, her serve and her unwillingness to pull back from that aggressive style in key moments is what is preventing her from climbing back to number 1 and from winning more majors than she should be winning.
With U.S. Open up next Sharapova should take the next few tournaments to work on her serve and figure out how to pull back on her play so we wont be sitting here again in August and going “here we go again.”
However, this is Petra Kvitova’s time to shine. Kvitova’s historic win comes at a time when women’s tennis needs a front runner and with her cool demeanor and style of play she might turn out to be the next in line to carry the torch.
As the holder of the main crown in the sport of tennis this might be the beginning of bigger things to come.