The old No.2 Court may have been known as the Graveyard of Champion, however the new one is proving to be anything but.
In years gone by, Petra Kvitova may have been overawed by a late move from the scheduled No.1 Court to Wimbledon’s third show court. Not now though.
Kvitova ensured no defending champion has ever lost on the new No.2 Court and it was in some style demolishing the Great Britain’s Elena Baltacha 6-0, 6-4 in 1hr and 12mins of impressive tennis, suggesting the Czech has a great chance of winning the title again.
Kvitova’s 2011 victory at SW19 may have been seen as a shock in some quarters but if she goes on to retain her crown nobody can be surprised on this evidence.
Poor Baltacha was brutally outplayed in the first set as a merciless Kvitova ran riot before hanging on in the second despite having a bad back.
“I think it will be alright tomorrow,” Kvitova said after the match. “I have just stiff back. I’ve felt it for the last 10 days, but it was only like for half an hour, then I was in the physio, had the needles and treatment, and it was gone.
“I think that I played well from the beginning and I knew what I had to play. I have good tactics and plans. It seemed very easy from the beginning, but some games was really close. I tried to win the big points.
“Then the second set I started to feel a little bit my back, so that's why probably I didn't play so well as the beginning.”
The pattern started in the first game as Kvitova took apart the Baltacha serve and never looked back. A run of eight straight points for the left-hander summed up Kvitova’s dominance towards the end of the first set, with Baltacha well and truly demoralised.
The British No.3 at least came back into the contest in the second set and should have had the opening game when, in quite bizarre fashion, Baltacha celebrated during game point and was consequently forced to concede back to deuce.
“I actually shouted, ‘come on’,” admitted Baltacha. “I had a bit of a Serena moment as I didn’t think she would get to the ball.”
Kvitova duly took advantage, breaking serve in the end, and then raced to a 4-0 lead.
Baltacha, 28, troubled by injury problems of her own all season with her entire left leg in bandages, may not have too many Wimbledons left in her but if this was a swansong she at least produced a late, brave fight-back, the sort which has become a trademark of her career.
“Last year I kind of said, ‘Oh, I think after the Olympics I'm probably going to retire’,” Baltacha said. “But do you know what? I’ll continue on a week‑to‑week basis. Because I think if I still really enjoy it, if I still believe I'm improving and I still love it, then I'll carry on.”
The crowd roared in delight as Baltacha finally won a point to make it 4-1, then Baltacha won two more games with her only break of Kvitova’s excellent serve.
Suddenly it was 4-3 and at 30-30 on the Kvitova serve. Baltacha, who had overcome her first-set nerves, had a chance of a dramatic comeback. However, the Czech firmly shut the door, and although Baltacha went on to save three match points, Kvitova took her fourth opportunity to complete a victory of such authority no one will relish playing her now.
“If she plays like she did in the first set, I think she will win it again,” Baltacha said. “She’s very confident.”