WIMBLEDON, England – Eugenie Bouchard had prepared for this moment for the past 11 years. And it seemed as if everything was in place for the 20-year-old Canadian to claim her first Grand Slam title when she stepped onto Wimbledon’s Center Court.
She had won Wimbledon’s Junior Championship in 2012. She’d reached the semifinals of all three majors this year. She’d stormed into Saturday’s final without conceding a set. And the real-life princess for whom she was named, Queen Elizabeth’s granddaughter Princess Eugenie, was in the Royal Box to witness her sporting coronation.
But with a breathtaking display of power, aggression and determination, Petra Kvitova relegated Bouchard to champion-in-waiting, blazing to her second Wimbledon title, 6-3, 6-0, in just 55 minutes.
It was the most lopsided women’s final at Wimbledon since 1992, when Steffi Graf steamrolled Monica Seles, 6-2, 6-1. And it left past champions groping for superlatives worthy of Kvitova’s tour de force, which capped a tournament that a few days ago seemed bereft of female stars.
I am stunned at how consistent she was, said ESPN analyst Chris Evert, who counts three Wimbledon titles among her 18 majors.
She played out of her head. Everything worked, from her movement to her defense to her offense, her serve and her returns.
It wasn’t that Bouchard froze on the sport’s grandest stage or dissolved in a fit of nerves. Kvitova ripped the title from her, hitting with such blistering pace and heartless angles that Bouchard could barely get her feet set before the ball whizzed past.
I definitely got outplayed, said Bouchard, who hit just eight winners to Kvitova’s 28. But I’m still holding my head up. I feel like I’ve come a long way, and I’m proud of what I’ve achieved not only this week but this year, as well.
If tennis matches are akin to an athletic conversation, Saturday’s women’s final was an epic monologue in which Kvitova’s racket made the only noise that mattered.
Wham! The first set was over in 32 minutes.
Wham! The second set was over in 23 minutes.
The 6-foot Czech was so profoundly in that orbit that athletes call the zone, even she couldn’t believe the balls she was running down or the passing shots she was blasting across the net.
For a tournament that lost top seed and five-time champion Serena Williams in the third round and reigning French Open champion Maria Sharapova one round later, Kvitova’s dazzling performance was a testament to the talent of other top-10 players.
And Bouchard’s strong showing, reaching Wimbledon’s final just two years after winning the junior girls’ title, attests to the young talent that’s waiting to supplant the 32-year-old Williams and 27-year-old Sharapova, who have won 23 majors between them.
She’s only going to improve, Evert said of Bouchard, projected to reach a career-high No. 7 when the rankings are computed Monday. She was devastated today, and that’s a good sign – that she wasn’t just satisfied with reaching the final. There’s no doubt in my mind she will win a Grand Slam and, I’d go as far as say, one day be No. 1.
As is custom at Wimbledon, Kvitova and Bouchard strode out to Center Court cradling a bouquets of flowers – the All England Club’s grace-note of a gift to the women who reach the final stage.
But the niceties ended the moment they swapped the bouquets for rackets.
The self-possessed Bouchard won the toss and chose to serve, eager to unleash her big serve and groundstrokes on Kvitova, who had won their only previous meeting in 2013.
Neither displayed a hint of nerves at the outset, with each holding serve.
But Kvitova quickly separated herself with the fury of her strokes and her aggression, rallying from inside the baseline rather than behind it. It helped her create sharper angles with her shots and pin Bouchard back on her heels.