Friday, 4 July 2014

Genie and Petra - keeping it young

The Ladies Singles semi finals promised much but each delivered only one competitive set.  Petra Kvitova was first to forge her way into the final (her second at Wimbledon), but had to endure Lucie Safarova testing her every move and shot over a first set full of highlights.  After trading early service breaks, it was Petra playing catch up and Lucie creating the real moments of danger for her less experienced but more decorated opponent.  Safarova approached the net enough to suggest that she knew variety was the best chance of unsettling the ground stroke competence of her fellow Czech racqueteer.

Very few mistakes were committed off the racquet of Safarova, unless induced by the shot making from the other side, yet a tie break was achieved with a minimum of fuss.
Kvitova opened the breaker quickly, serving beautifully and whipping forehands all over the court for winners to take a 4-2 lead.  Safarova responded with a stunning backhand and an ace and then 4-4 proceeded to 6- before the 2011 champ knocked over Safarova with a hard to handle retrieval shot from behind the baseline.  First set Kvitova 7-6.

Energised and supremely confident in her ability to close the deal, Petra went on a second set rampage, issuing ground shots with no return address and serving immaculately to push Lucie further away from the final than felt possible for most of the first set.  2-0 after breaking the Safarova serve, Kvitova consolidated the position with another collection of clean winners and at 3-0 the end was near.  The cruise to the final was stalled momentarily when Lucie stood firm on serve to stay arithmetically in touch, then managed to reach break point on the Kvitova serve in the fifth game.  However, from there the throttle was released to its maximum, and Lucie had won her last game for Wimbledon 2014.

Petra Kvitova would contest the final and hope to become a dual winner of the Wimbledon Ladies Singles crown.

Her opponent?  The winner of the Simona Halep / Genie Bouchard semi final.  Both girls had brought their fine form from the clay of Roland Garros, where Simona had run Sharapova a good race in the final, and Genie had gone down fighting just as hard in the semis.
This time, it was hard to predict as both players began somewhat impressively before stumbles in their respective second efforts at the service line.  After four games it was all square, with Simona owning one sore ankle thanks to a stumble adding further hurt to the service break just inflicted.

In contrast to the previous semi final, the shot making, while of similar quality to the Czech girls, resulted in repeated struggles to hold serve.  Still, hold serve they did, all the while the Romanian ankle being tested with clever placement by Bouchard.  Halep held together, as did her game, and every break point was saved, mostly with good tennis on her part.  Bouchard treated her worries on serve equally well, and following the script the combatants delivered a tie break.

Genie began best but was swiftly overtaken by Simona who gained a 4-2 advantage with some smart tennis.  However not to be denied the young Canadian rattled up four straight points to give herself two shots at the set.  She decided against using the first but then put away a volley to take the opening chapter of this story 7-6.

Simona seemed to have moved on from the obvious disappointment of dropping the first set as she easily held serve to lead 1-0 in the second.  However, it was a slippery slope down for her beyond that point.  Her focus appeared to drift and her timing was way off;  Genie happily picked up the pieces of what was once an effective Romanian game, and broke twice, stretching out a lead of 5-1 in the process.  One last effort by Simona in the seventh was sufficient to stave off three match points, but her resistance ended there, as the bottle was unplugged and Genie released to the final, winning clearly 7-6 6-2.

We now have ourselves the first Grand Slam singles final featuring players both born in the 1990s.  What's more, six different women have featured in the three Grand Slam tournament finals in 2014.

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