02
Jul
11

A star was born at Wimbledon on Saturday as Petra Kvitova beat former champion Maria Sharapova in straight sets.

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The 21-year-old Czech star produced a highly-impressive display to win 6-3 6-4 and claim her first grand slam title. Able to push Sharapova back with her powerful groundstrokes, Kvitova also showed plenty of court craft as she truly announced her name to the world. Kvitova struggled to hold back the tears in her post-match speech as she said: “It’s hard to find the words right now. “Of course I was nervous, I thought I could win Wimbledon, but I had to focus on every point.” Asked if it had been the best match of her career, she added: “I think so, of course – in the final of Wimbledon!”

After losing her serve in the first game, the left-handed Kvitova hit back to dominate the first set. Her powerful serve was causing Sharapova plenty of problems, but perhaps most impressive was her returning, with both forehand and backhand firing well. Sharapova ended the match with 76 per cent of her first serves in, yet she was still broken five times. Sharapova, playing her first final in SW19 since winning the crown as a 17-year-old in 2004, had suffered from serving problems in her semi-final and they came back to haunt her in the sixth game, back-to-back double faults handing Kvitova a 4-2 lead. Sharapova fell set point down at 2-5 but saved it with a timely ace but Kivtova made no mistake in serving out the set. It was the first Sharapova had lost at this year’s tournament. Another double fault gave Kvitova another break point in the first game of the second set and a crunching forehand onto the baseline saw the Czech take full advantage. Kvitova’s slice was causing Sharapova problems, leaving her to generate her own pace from the back of the court. But it was Kvitova who was able to gain more success in the baseline exchanges, with Sharapova being forced back more often than her eighth-seeded foe. Despite that, Sharapova is not renowned as a fighter for nothing and she broke back to 2-2 with a superb lob. Two crunching returns in the following game saw Kvitova reclaim her advantage but again Sharapova was able to hit straight back – an easy forehand miss from Kvitova seeing her fall break point down and she was duly was made to pay. The miss did not appear to play on her mind though and when Sharapova pulled a forehand wide in the next game, Kvitova again led by a set and a break. Two games later and she was serving for the title.

It was a nerveless end, too. Kvitova moved to 40-0 and then finished things off with her one and only ace of the match, becoming the youngest SW19 champ since Sharapova’s win seven years ago. Inspired by Czech compatriots Martina Navratilova and Jana Novotna as a child, Kvitova thanked both former champions, who were among the crowd. “It’s very nice to know they were watching. All the time, they’ve given me some advice. It’s great.”

Sharapova was quick to pay tribute to her conqueror. “Unfortunately in tennis there’s only one winner so big congratulations, you played a great tournament,” she said. “To be back and holding the runner-up trophy, obviously I would have wanted that big one but it’s something I’ll be back to try to get soon.”

 

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