Wimbledon 2011, London, England, UK
June 30, 2011
Editorial by Jane Voigt.
Kvitova and Sharapova In Final
Earlier Columns from this Event:
June 30, 2011 -- As thousands of striking civil servants protested across England today in response to the government's proposals to cut pensions, four women from all corners of the planet took to Centre Court to determine the two that would advance to the 2011 finals.
Three were 21 years old. Two were making their inaugural appearance in the semifinals at the All England Club, of which one was wild card entry. And one, the elder stateswoman, had already accumulated three Grand Slam titles by the time she was 21.
One match was decidedly better than the other, the first one between lefty Petra Kvitova, seeded #8, and the 4th seed, Victoria Azarenka. Kvitova was competing in her second semi at Wimbledon.
Victoria Azarenka has all the talent in the world but has never gone beyond the quarters in a major. Today she was happy to break through, but disappointed about the outcome. She lost to Kvitova 61 36 62, after gifting the match to the Czech on a double fault.
Wildcard Sabine Lisicki's chances of advancing to her first semi at Wimbledon were slim from day one of this prestigious slam, although she had been a quarterfinalist in 2009.
Her smile and story of recovery over the last year won hearts. Her big serve won her matches, especially against Li Na in the first round. But today she didn't hit one ace, after slamming upwards to 17 in prior rounds. Her attempts to jump on Sharapova's second serves usually ended with an unforced error, too. Bottom line ... she was defeated by Sharapova, the #5 seed, 64 63.
Sharapova won her first Grand Slam title at Wimbledon in 2004 at 17, destroying Serena Williams in two sets. She made it to the semis the next two years and the fourth round in 2007. After that she was out before the second week.
"I hadn't been past the fourth round in a few years," Sharapova said, as reported by the Associated Press (AP). "So to be at this stage, I'm just thrilled to have the opportunity to go for it."
Sharapova complimented Lisicki, saying, "She played really well and I did quite the opposite. I just had to stay focused."
Sharapova double faulted the first point and last point of her opening game. Lisicki did just the opposite. She held and ran away with the lead: 3-0.
But Sharapova fans weren't worried. If the Russian is exceptional in one area of her game it's her unflinching ability to concentrate and lock out anything unrelated to the match at hand. Her second best asset is her ground game. Lisicki never should have hit the ball within reach of Sharapova's wide wingspan because she hit the fuzz off of the ball and dictated. Lisicki was forced to retrieve.
Lisicki's chances came on Sharapova's second serves, which were numerous. However, she couldn't capitalize because she hit risky shots when her rhythm and accuracy were off. But that's Sabine's game.
"To break through here and get to the final, I'm really happy even though I didn't play my best tennis today," Sharapova said in her press conference. (Via Christopher Clarey on Twitter)
Sharapova double faulted 11 times in the match.
With her semifinal victory, Sharapova returns to the top five on the WTA rankings. If she wins the Venus Rosewater Platter on Saturday, she will be ranked #3.
"The WTA badly needs Maria to do well," Lindsay Davenport said, calling the match for the BBC.
In the first semifinal -- the better of the two -- Petra Kvitova was quick off the mark. She played dazzling tennis in the first set, showing off her lefty serve and strong forehand. During one rally, which reached upward to 20 shots, her balls came within a breath of the singles' court lines. Azarenka finally sent a ball wide because Kvitova forced the error.
"All match it was around both serves," Kvitova said, as reported by the AP. "I'm very happy my serve was good in the third set."
Kvitova hit 40 winners and only 14 unforced errors. That's the same ratio as Jo-Wilfred Tsonga hit in his five-set upset of Roger Federer yesterday. Her assertive play pushed Azarenka on her heels and quashed her ability to play her game, which is of the same genre.
In the second set, Azarenka stormed back rushing to a 3-0 lead. Perhaps Kvitova awoke to her own brilliance and couldn't rearrange her thoughts quickly enough to stop the unforced errors. Azarenka took the second, making the match a bit more dramatic.
But in the third Kvitova's orientation had a single objective: get to the final. Her serve clicked. Her ground game pinned Azarenka to the grass. She didn't change strategies, although she is a polished doubles player.
"She started serving, and she really played very well on her service game," Azarenka about the third set. "She was just going for every single shot. When my balls were going a little bit out, her balls were going into the line."
Petra Kvitova was the fourth lefty to advance to the semifinals in the Open era (since 1968). Her idol as a junior was Martina Navratilova, originally from the same country as Kvitova, although it was Czechoslovakia in Martina's youth. The fifty-four year old Navratilova predicted early in the fortnight that Kvitova would win the title. She added to her confidence in the young Czech woman today, saying that she would be a top player very soon.
Maria Sharapova hasn't dropped a set en route to the 2011 Wimbledon final. She is more accustomed to a Grand Slam final, where Kvitova will be the babe in the woods, or on the grass if you will. If Sharapova doesn't improve her serve, her chances of winning her second Wimbledon title is slim because Kvitova will tee-off with accuracy on second serves.
"She's a really tricky player, " Sharapova said. "She's a great grass court player. She's a lefty and uses her serve."
Petra Kvitova had never won a grass court match until last year at Wimbledon. She made the semifinal then, and today she made the final. Both lost to Serena Williams last year.
Although Sharapova is the heavy favorite, Kvitova's big game and rapid ascension should give her enough confidence to challenge Sharapova.
June 29, 2011 Wimbledon: 178 and 1
June 28, 2011 Wimbledon: The Women
June 27, 2011 Wimbledon: Mixed Bag
June 26, 2011 Wimbledon: The Queue
June 25, 2011 Wimbledon: Wimbledon So Far
June 24, 2011 Wimbledon: Raining Seeds at Wimbledon
June 23, 2011 Wimbledon: Coming Back
June 22, 2011 Wimbledon: Behind The Scenes
June 21, 2011 Wimbledon: Touched
June 20, 2011 Wimbledon: Tradition
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