By Jane Voigt
Eugenie Bouchard usually gets the attention. Tall, blonde and talented. Hey, wait a minute … that sounds like Petra Kvitova, too. Both braid their hair, have formidable forehands, and nerves of steel. Will we be able to tell them apart tomorrow in the Wimbledon Women’s Final?
Petra Kvitova (No. 6) will strike with her left hand on the racquet. She won The Championships in 2011. Her first and only major, to date. That’s about all we need to say; she, therefore, is the favorite.
But don’t count out Genie Bouchard (No. 13). When the mental side of the game needs to illustrate that most important aspect, she’ll be the subject. Rarely has the sport seen such a composed, determined, and confident woman at 20 years old appearing in only her sixth slam.
“I really try to keep my blinders on and just focus on the next step,” Bouchard began after her semifinal win over Simona Halep, “whether it’s a day of practice or the next match. I’d say at the end of tournaments or trips I’ll kind of take a moment to reflect and look back. But, it’s really important for me to just keep going.”
The only active player to reach a Grand Slam final in fewer attempts than Bouchard was Venus Williams. She reached The U. S. Open in three tries and finished as the runner-up. Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova reached their first finals in seven attempts.
Kvitova needed 13 major main draws before she elevated her game enough to breakthrough to a final. She did it at Wimbledon in 2011, and won. She was 21 at the time.
Since, her results have been up and down. However, she has not fallen out of the top ten. “When I won here in 2011 I needed to change a little bit myself on the court and off the court,” Kvitova said, after defeating friend and compatriot Lucie Safarova in the semifinal yesterday. “I had to get used to the pressure, media and everything like that.”
Bouchard’s first main draw performance came in Washington D.C. in 2011. In 2012, she won the Junior Wimbledon title. Then in 2013 she won the WTA’s Newcomer of the Year award. Although she’s Canadian, and the first-ever Canadian to reach a major final, her tennis profile is just like a burst of fireworks.
Both women are children of the 1990s: aggressive on court, believe they belong on Centre Court, and thrilled to swing out thanks to those polyester strings.
Kvitova’s advantage is spelled, L E F T. She strikes her lovely groundies very hard and very flat. She moves the ball well. She has connected with 38 aces through six rounds, the most of the tournament. And, she has won a walloping 66% of points on her second serve. No one has a better stat than that. This will play a huge role tomorrow, if her first serve collapses and excessive nerves pester Petra.
Movement, though, is Bouchard’s to exploit. She does a better job of this than Kvitova. If the Canadian can execute a movement strategy, hold serve, keep her nerves in check and step on the aggression pedal … the match could swing her way. We know she will not give up. But neither will Kvitova.
One more tidbit … the WTA reports that Bouchard has 223,000 followers on Twitter and 630,000 Likes on Facebook. Kvitova has 120,000 followers on Twitter and 380,000 Likes on Facebook. No prediction has ever been measured on the heft of a player’s Social Media exposure. If it were used, well, we could always rationalize the higher numbers for Bouchard. It’s those Genie Army Aussies flooding cyberspace.