Kvitova needs only 55 minutes to win her second Wimbledon title


Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic celebrates after winning the Wimbledon women’s championship, 6-3, 6-0, against Canada's Eugenie Bouchard. Kvitova won her second title in the shortest women’s final at Wimbledon since 1983. (Glyn Kirk/AFP/Getty Images)

Eugenie Bouchard had prepared for this moment for the last 11 years. And it seemed as if everything was in place for the 20-year-old Canadian to claim her first Grand Slam title when she stepped onto Wimbledon’s Centre Court.

She had won Wimbledon’s Junior Championship in 2012. She had reached the semifinals of all three majors this year. She had stormed into Saturday’s final without conceding a set. And the real-life princess for whom she was named, Queen Elizabeth’s granddaughter Princess Eugenie, was in the Royal Box to witness her sporting coronation.

But with a breathtaking display of power, aggression and determination, Petra Kvitova relegated Bouchard to champion-in-waiting, blazing to her second Wimbledon title, 6-3, 6-0, in just 55 minutes.

It was the most lopsided women’s final at Wimbledon since 1992, when Steffi Graf steamrolled Monica Seles, 6-2, 6-1. And it left past champions groping for superlatives worthy of Kvitova’s tour de force, which capped a tournament that a few days ago seemed bereft of female stars.

“I am stunned at how consistent she was,” said ESPN analyst Chris Evert, who counts three Wimbledon titles among her 18 majors. “She played out of her head. Everything worked, from her movement to her defense to her offense, her serve and her returns.”

It wasn’t that Bouchard froze on the sport’s grandest stage or dissolved in a fit of nerves. Kvitova ripped the title from her, hitting with such blistering pace and heartless angles that Bouchard could barely get her feet set before the ball whizzed past.

“I definitely got outplayed,” said Bouchard, the 13th seed, who hit just eight winners to Kvitova’s 28. “But I’m still holding my head up. I feel like I’ve come a long way, and I’m proud of what I’ve achieved not only this week but this year, as well.”

If tennis matches are akin to an athletic conversation, Saturday’s women’s final was an epic monologue in which Kvitova’s racket made the only noise that mattered.

“Wham!” The first set was over in 32 minutes.

“Wham!” The second set was over in 23 minutes.

The 6-foot Czech was so profoundly in that orbit that athletes call “the zone,” even she couldn’t believe the balls she was running down or the passing shots she was blasting across the net.

“Oh my God, this is good! I can really run and put everything back!” sixth-seeded Kvitova recalled thinking at one point, with a laugh.

Nine-time Wimbledon singles champion Martina Navratilova, who was born in the former Czechoslovakia, looked on from the Royal Box with pride.

“Awesome display of power by Petra,” Navratilova said in an e-mail exchange. “She was in the zone and never let off the gas.”

For a tournament that lost top seed and five-time champion Serena Williams in the third round and reigning French Open champion Maria Sharapova one round later, Kvitova’s dazzling performance was a testament to the talent that resides among lesser known top players.

And Bouchard’s strong showing, reaching Wimbledon’s final just two years after winning the junior girls’ title, attests to the talent that’s waiting to supplant the 32-year-old Williams and 27-year-old Sharapova, who have won 22 majors between them.

“She’s only going to improve,” Evert said of Bouchard, projected to reach a career-high No. 7 when the rankings are computed Monday. “She was devastated today, and that’s a good sign — that she wasn’t just satisfied with reaching the final. There’s no doubt in my mind she will win a Grand Slam and, I’d go as far as to say, one day be number one.”

As is custom at Wimbledon, Kvitova and Bouchard strode out to Centre Court cradling a bouquets of flowers — the All England club’s grace-note of a gift to the women who reach the final stage.

But the niceties ended the moment they swapped the bouquets for rackets.

The self-possessed Bouchard won the toss and chose to serve, eager to unleash her big serve and groundstrokes on Kvitova, who had won their only previous meeting, on a Toronto hard court in 2013.

Neither displayed a hint of nerves at the outset, with each holding serve.

But Kvitova quickly separated herself with the fury of her strokes and her aggression, rallying from inside the baseline rather than behind it. It helped her create sharper angles with her shots and pin Bouchard back on her heels.

“I know that she can be very dangerous,” Kvitova said. “I have to go for every shot, to not really give her time for her game.”

Kvitova broke Bouchard in the third game and again for a 5-2 lead and went on to win the set with ease.

“If this isn’t going for it, I don’t know what is!” gushed three-time Wimbledon champion John McEnroe, commentating for the BBC. “She is just destroying the ball!”

Since throttling Sharapova to claim her first and only major three years ago, Kvitova has posted uneven results. Shy by nature, she was unprepared for the spotlight and expectations that come with winning Wimbledon at 21.

So there was reason to doubt Saturday that she could sustain such an exceptional level for two sets. But she only got better, allowing Bouchard just 10 points in the second set.

Match point arrived so quickly, it seemed to take Kvitova by surprise.

“I just try to play every point,” the Czech said afterward. “Suddenly I did a winner from the backhand. I was so happy.”

Tears welled in her eyes. And they cascaded when she looked to her box, where her parents, brothers and coaches looked on.

Note: Sunday’s boys’ championship will be an all-American affair, with sixth-seeded Stefan Kozlov of Pembroke Pines, Fla., taking on unseeded Noah Rubin of New York.

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