Clearly Petra Kvitova’s personal recipe for victory features the gamut of drama – surrendering a potential straight sets victory for a see-saw three-setter, complete with rain break and overnight suspension.
The 2011 Wimbledon champion resumed her three-chapter third round match against Ekaterina Makarova on Saturday a break down in the third set, and breezed to victory with a display of power tennis to which few players could have produced any reply.
Ultimately she beat the No.25 seed 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 in one minute over two hours, to go through to the last 16 for the fourth successive year, leaving spectators wondering how she could have been in so much trouble.
There was no denying the peculiar pattern of this match.
When play was first halted by rain at 3-3 in the first set on Friday, Kvitova had yet to earn a single point on Makarova’s serve. When they resumed two hours later, the Czech broke at once and not only strolled off with the set but went a break up in the second. Yet having won six games in a row, she then lost eight.
On a sunnier summer’s evening, she might have waved goodbye to the match as well, as all the momentum was with Makarova. But at 8.50pm the darkness engulfed No.1 Court and the players were forced off.
The overnight break saw the No.8 seed a woman transformed, and her display of power combined with the fact that she is the most senior seed remaining in the bottom half of the draw means she has a great path to the final. Yet for one so able on grass, mental inconsistency remains her great enemy, which she herself readily acknowledges.
“It’s difficult for me to keep a high level for a whole match,” she mused. “I played so well in 2011. Every shot was going in. It’s not the same this year. I have moments when I’m not playing well. Sometimes I have trouble with my serve and do some double faults. That’s a key. I have to focus on each point, just thinking about that point and not about the past. I do feel more relaxed not being the defending champion this year. There is less pressure on me.
“I didn’t have a good night’s sleep. The match was still in my mind, what was good and bad. Today was another day for me. I played aggressively and that was the key. Yesterday it was quite close every game and we held serve. Then after the rain I played so well and was on fire but some easy mistakes came again and it was difficult to come back in the match so I was glad it was quite dark and we continued today.
“I didn’t play second round so it was quite tricky not to play for three days. [Yaroslava Shvedova withdrew with injury.] I knew it would be difficult to play [Makarova] on grass, having lost to her the last time we played at Eastbourne. She really likes grass. So I hope I take confidence from this match. But the final is still so far away. Yes, I’m the highest seed in my half but there are a lot of great players. Grass is special and people can surprise you with how they play on it so it’s still very open.”
20:24...But boy, it was a barrow-load of fun. I hope you enjoyed it even half as much as we did. Thank you for all your messages throughout, you've been the glue holding us together as the edges frayed amid the madness. Now if you'll excuse me, it's time for us Brits to raise a toast to Andy Murray and Fred Perry. British sporting legends both.
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