Petra Kvitova Claims Second Wimbledon in Epic Dominance
All the talk going into the woman’s final was the emergence of Eugenie “Genie” Bouchard. She dominated the draw with her aggressive play and did not drop a set en route to the Wimbledon Final. As such, Bouchard appeared set to win her first Grand Slam and stake her claim as tennis’s next female superstar. However, Petra Kvitova had other ideas and completely blew Bouchard away in straight sets, 6-3 and 6-0. Kvitova’s advantage heading into the match was her experience. She already won Wimbledon in 2011. As a result, she knew what to expect and would not be overcome by the moment. Nevertheless, Bouchard started the match out well by holding serve. The first service game is usually indicative of whether a newcomer is rattled by the moment. Bouchard responded with poise and focus. In last year’s Final, runner up Sabine Lisicki completely self destructed. She practically handed Marion Bartoli the championship. It was not the case with Bouchard. Kvitova was simply better. It quickly became obvious that Kvitova was hitting the ball a lot harder than Bouchard. Kvitova unleashed a blistering serve that Bouchard had trouble returning. In addition, she continually smashed Bouchard’s serves right back at her. Kvitova was simply overpowering. She also had the game of her life making every shot. Consequently, Bouchard never had a chance in this match. The match ended in less than an hour. It was the most lopsided Wimbledon Final in a very long time. It reminded me of Serena Williams when she is completely overpowering an opponent. It has become clear that it is a transition period in women’s tennis and there will be a changing of the guard soon. While young players such as Genie Bouchard and Sloane Stephens have received hype as future stars, Petra Kvitova has gone under the radar. She is only 24 and has won 2 Wimbledons. She deserves attention as a star in women’s tennis. With her power and shot making ability that she displayed in the Wimbledon Final, there is no reason that she should not be a true contender in all Majors going forward. On the other hand, I do not see Kvitova becoming the best female tennis player in the sport or progressing into an all-time great. The biggest flaw in her game is her movement. It is difficult to improve since speed and quickness is usually something you cannot learn. Nevertheless, no tennis fan should fall asleep on Kvitova anymore.
In regards to Bouchard, she is still on track to be tennis’s next female superstar. She is attractive, charming, and humble. She has displayed maturity well beyond her years. More importantly, she has the game to back it up. She is only 20 years old and the 2014 Wimbledon is only her 6th Grand Slam event. She is the only female player to reach the Semi-Final at every Grand Slam this year. She took another step forward by reaching the Wimbledon Final. She is already the first Canadian to reach a Grand Slam Final. She lost but it was to a more superior opponent. She definitely has the proper attitude to learn from the experience and grow as a player. First, she needs to develop physically and become stronger to put more power in her game. Kvitova definitely exposed this part of Bouchard’s game. Next, Bouchard needs to learn to make adjustments. A major reason Roger Federer has been a prolific winner is his ability to adjust to all types of opponents and situations. For example, Federer faced 6’9” John Isner in the 2007 US Open. Isner won the first set with an overpowering performance in a tie breaker 7-6. However, Federer made the necessary adjustments after the first set and dissecting Isner’s game. He exploited all of Isner’s weaknesses and won the next three sets handily. Similarly, Federer has adapted his game to compensate for concessions to age late in his career. As such, it is clear that Bouchard needs to add this dimension to her game. From interviews with her coach and her, they note that they only worry about her playing well and do not care what her opponents do. It is a silly notion. Throughout the tournament, Bouchard took a step in front of the baseline in order to cut off the shots of her opponents and play an aggressive game. It was a great strategy until the Finals. Kvitova served and hit with more power than Bouchard’s previous opponents. Although Bouchard could not handle the velocity of Kvitova’s shots, she was stubborn and stuck with her strategy. She is young. She will learn. The future is here and she is Canadian.
Novak Djokovic Wins 2nd Wimbledon, 7th Grand Slam and Denies Roger Federer an Unprecedented 18th Grand Slam
Unlike the women’s Final, the men’s final delivered an epic five set match. Federer has been a part of three previous five set matches in the Wimbledon Final. He won the first one against Rafael Nadal in 2007 then lost the second one to Nadal in the rematch in 2008. Then, Federer beat Andy Roddick in a third five set Final. All three Wimbledon Finals are among the greatest matches in tennis history. Add the 2014 Wimbledon Finals to the list. The story line going into the match was epic. On one end, you have one of the two best tennis players today in Novak Djokovic trying to win a second Wimbledon, 7th career Grand Slam, and reclaim the number 1 ranking from Rafael Nadal. On the other end, you have arguably the greatest tennis player of all time in 17 time Grand Slam winner, Roger Federer, at the end of his career trying to add one more Grand Slam title to his legacy. It is a dream showdown and it delivered. Both players brought their A game. They started out great and finished great. They moved well and hit big shots throughout the match. Both players held serve in the first set. In a tie breaker, Djokovic had two set points but Federer came back and won the set 7-6 (9-7). In the second set, Djokovic displayed mental toughness and resolve by breaking Federer early in the set. Both players held serve the rest of the set en route to Djokovic winning it 6-4. In the third set, both men held serve again to force another tie break. This time, Djokovic stayed in control and won the set 7-6 (7-4). The fourth set was the best set of the match. After losing the third set, Federer appeared in trouble when Djokovic broke early to go up 3-1. However, Federer responded immediately with a break of his won to cut it to 3-2. When Djokovic broke Federer again and held serve to go up 5-2, I conceded that the match was over and Djokovic would finish it off quickly. I was wrong. Federer showed his championship pedigree and greatness one more time. Djokovic served for the Championship but Federer broke him to cut it to 5-4. In the next game, Djokovic had a chance to break for Championship point. However, Federer aced Djokovic immediately and won the game to cut it to tie the set at 5-5. Federer would break Djokovic for the third time in the set then held serve to win the set 7-5.
After the comeback in the fourth set and the crowd behind Federer, he looked like he turned the tide. After many disappointments in Grand Slams and losing three consecutive Finals for Djokovic over the last two years, the pressure of winning continued to mount. It was evident during this tournament and in the fourth and fifth sets of the Final. As such, Federer definitely had the momentum going into the fifth set. It is a testament to Djokovic’s mental toughness that he did not crumble under the emotional strain. Both men had chances to break but held serve in the deciding set with Djokovic leading 5-4 going into the final game. Federer looked great and loose in the fifth set. It seemed like a foregone conclusion that he would hold serve again so the match could continue. Unfortunately, Federer quickly fell behind 15-40 to set up two Championship points and Djokovic broke him to win the set 6-4 and the Championship. For Djokovic, it is a very important win for his career. It is his second Wimbledon title and his 7th career Grand Slam. He is arguably the greatest returner of all time. Moreover, he has played in the same era as Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. Consequently, all 7 of his Grand Slam titles have been earned and well deserved. He has definitely cemented his place as one of the greatest tennis players of all time.
In regards to Roger Federer, he gave tennis fans another epic thriller. Obviously, he is well past his prime. I was ready to concede that he was regressing rapidly as a player after a terrible season last year. However, he has made the adjustments to his game to stay relevant and in contention for Majors. He has improved his serve and gone to the net more to avoid long rallies now that his speed and movement have declined with age. He made the Australian Open Semi-Finals and the Wimbledon Finals this year. It is not up to his standards at his peak but they are impossible expectations for any player. He was absolutely brilliant in Wimbledon. While the draw opened up in his favor when Rafael Nadal was beaten early, Federer played great. Before the Final, his serve was only broken once in the tournament. Despite his advanced age, he played an amazing match against Djokovic, who is the top player in the sport and in his prime. In the end, it was a tossup match that either player could have won. In Federer’s prime, he did things no player has ever done. In the twilight of his career, he is still doing things that no player has ever done at his age. Nevertheless, Father Time is undefeated. It will only be more difficult for Federer to win another Major. He also has a family. His wife has recently given birth to a set of twin boys to go with their set of twin girls. As such, he will also dedicate more focus to his children instead of training. However, his family is also a source of strength. He is definitely hungry to win more. However, he seems relax out on the court now. He knows his legacy is set and he will always have his 17 Grand Slams. His children keep things in perspective. Tennis is a game and they are his life. Moreover, there is no more pressure of being expected to win. For these reasons, I think Federer can just enjoy playing instead of dealing with the stress he was accustomed to in his prime. Many critics have said this Wimbledon may be Federer’s last chance to win a Major. They may be correct. If it is so, he gave us one last great thriller in his career. Even if he does not win another Major, he still has plenty of great tennis for us to watch. I would never count him out again until he retires.
Other Wimbledon Notes
A Tale of Two Sisters
The Williams sisters are two of the best female tennis players of all time. Venus has dealt with severe health issues in recent years. However, she looked good in Wimbledon. She showed a lot of power and gave the eventual winner, Petra Kvitova, a real scare in the third round. Venus took the first set 7-5 but Petra won the match by winning the next two sets narrowly at 7-6 and 6-5. Considering how badly Kvitova destroyed Bouchard in the Finals, that third round match is a clear indicator that Venus still has some great tennis left in her. On the other hand, Serena is still the number 1 player in the world. However, she has not reached a quarterfinal in a Grand Slam this year. Like Federer, she also has 17 career Grand Slam titles. She looked great in 2012 and 2013 winning two Majors each year. However, she is older and it is now fair to question whether age has caught up to her too. Her decline is part of the transition in women’s tennis to the young guard. In one of the more bizarre sports moments, Serena also had a viral infection that caused her to have a weird episode during her doubles match with teammate and sister, Venus. It was like a scene out of Space Jam when the aliens take the abilities of NBA stars. It causes the stars to lose their coordination and any sense of direction. Serena had difficultly even picking up the ball. Her serves did not even reach the net. It was an odd situation and I hope she is fine now. Nevertheless, Serena is a great athlete and champion. As such, I would not count her out quite yet.
A Future Star for Men’s Tennis
There were a number of young male tennis players who stood out in the tournament such as Grigor Dimitrov and Milos Raonic. However, the player who caught my attention the most was Nick Kyrgios. He made headlines by beating Rafael Nadal to reach the Quarterfinals. It reminded me of when Roger Federer beat the great Pete Sampras to reach the Quarterfinals of Wimbledon in 2001. It foreshadowed Federer’s greatness and symbolized a changing of the guard. Kyrgios was absolutely dominating against Nadal. He hit with ferocious power and made ridiculous shots, including a between the legs shot. He is only 19 years old and Australian. Keep an eye on him.