Petra Kvitova defeated Maria Sharapova in Saturday's women's final at Wimbledon. How did the 21-year-old Czech defeat the three-time Grand Slam champion to pull the upset and become the youngest winner at the All England Club since Sharapova won at age 17 in 2004?
1. Attacked Sharapova's second serve. It's always a matter of when, not if, Sharapova will develop the yips on her serve. That moment came early in Saturday's final and gave Kvitova the first momentum swing of the match. Serving at 2-3, 30-30, Sharapova uncorked four wild serves in a row to give Kvitova the early break. The Czech consolidated in her next service game and soon after the first set was hers.
More important than the double faults was Kvitova's return of Sharapova's second serves. Unlike Sabine Lisicki in the semis, who was content to get the ball back in play to start rallies, Kvitova took a step inside the baseline and pounded Sharapova's second serves. This allowed for easy winners off the return or to set up points that immediately put Kvitova on the offensive.
2. Won the long rallies. If there were a stat that told you how many points were won by a certain player on rallies longer than five shots (make it happen, somebody), Kvitova would have dominated. Sharapova was able to survive her poor serve at Wimbledon because she was able to use her groundstrokes to bail her out of trouble. Kvitova didn't allow that today. She hit deep to Sharapova, sending the Russian uncharacteristically off balance. Kvitova also showed great range and took advantage of Sharapova's shallow forehands.
3. No fear. Only 32 percent of women playing in their first Grand Slam final, like Kvitova was on Saturday, have gone on to win that match. Kvitova looked like she had been on the big stage before. Even with her childhood hero Martina Navratilova looking on, there was no apprehension or worry in her game, which is especially surprising given Sharapova's tendency to come back in matches.
- Maria Sharapova
- Petra Kvitova