Kvitova does a Sharapova | sports | Hindustan Times
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Kvitova does a Sharapova

A statuesque blonde with sizzling ground strokes advances to her first Grand Slam final at Wimbledon and stares down a more seasoned foe known for her grit and grunts to usher in a new era in women's tennis.

sports Updated: Jul 04, 2011 00:17 IST

A statuesque blonde with sizzling ground strokes advances to her first Grand Slam final at Wimbledon and stares down a more seasoned foe known for her grit and grunts to usher in a new era in women's tennis.

Seven years ago, Maria Sharapova was the ingénue with all the right strokes, upsetting Serena Williams to begin her charge to No. 1. On Saturday, Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic starred in the sequel, upsetting Sharapova, 6-3, 6-4, with an array of shots and nerves of steel.

The title was Kvitova's fourth of the year. She will ascend a spot, to No. 7, in the world rankings on Monday, cementing her place in the new era's lead pack alongside the current No. 1, Caroline Wozniacki, and the Wimbledon semifinalists Victoria Azarenka and Sabine Lisicki.

Kvitova stands apart because she is a left-hander, a species so rare only two others have been crowned the women's singles champion in the tournament's 125 years. The last was another Czech, Martina Navratilova, who won her ninth singles title in 1990, four months after Kvitova was born in the small town of Bilovec.

She grew up in Fulnek, where her victory was beamed on a big-screen television erected in the main square.

"It's still unbelievable feeling," Kvitova said. "Maybe I'll accept it after, I don't know, some days."

Kvitova's game is mature beyond her 21 years, but off the court, she is innocence personified. She giggled and blushed her way through her news conference while absently twirling strands of her long hair around her index finger.

Asked if she won for herself, her country or her family, Kvitova clucked and said: "For everything. It's tough to say. It's amazing."

Kvitova had 19 winners and 13 unforced errors. Her range and power made the crowd gasp and took the ball, match and storybook ending out of the grasp of Sharapova.

The era of big, brave tennis was introduced by Williams and her sister Venus, and accentuated by the 2004 Wimbledon final when Sharapova, then a 17-year-old upstart, matched Williams ground stroke for ground stroke and glare for glare in a 6-1, 6-4 victory.

Sports are cyclical, and women's tennis came full circle in the 125th minute of the match when Kvitova struck a 105-mile-per-hour serve for an ace, her first of the day, to secure win.