Wimbledon 2014 Women's Final: Kvitova vs. Bouchard Preview and Prediction

Brendan O'Meara@@BrendanOMearaFeatured ColumnistJuly 3, 2014

Wimbledon 2014 Women's Final: Kvitova vs. Bouchard Preview and Prediction

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    What more can you ask for in a Wimbledon final? Petra Kvitova, the left-handed Czech, comes into the match as a prior champion. In 2011 she won this tournament on the power of her serve. Her six-foot frame generates at lot of velocity on the ball.

    Courtney Nguyen of Sports Illustrated said of Kvitova's style

    Hyper-aggressive, and you would be too if you had the easy power Kvitova has... Kvitova's serves aren't as big as they were during her 2011 title run, but the lefty-serve is still a weapon. The key to her game is her ability to redirect the ball flatly down the lines on both wings. Whether it goes over the net or not, well, that's always the question. 

    She takes on the 20-year-old Canadian Eugenie Bouchard. Kvitova and Bouchard won their semifinal matches in straight sets and did it with power. 

    Read on to see breakdown of Saturday's women's Wimbledon final.

Who Has the Historical Edge?

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    Kvitova has the 1-0 advantage over Bouchard. It was a hard-court match in 2013 played in Toronto, Canada, Bouchard's homeland. Kvitova won in straight sets, 6-3, 6-2. Each had just one ace, but Bouchard committed eight double faults.

    What does all that mean now? Not a whole lot. Bouchard reached her first final in a Grand Slam and did so by defeating the world's No. 3 player in Simona Halep. Kvitova had the easier road to reach this final and has the edge in that she's won this tournament before, at about the same age Bouchard is now. (Kvitova won Wimbledon at age 21. Bouchard is 20.)

    Tennis, in a lot of ways, is a young woman's game. Many people speak of 20 being young to win tournaments. Plenty of the game's great players have won in their early 20s or younger. It should be no surprise if Bouchard topples Kvitova. It should also be no surprise if Kvitova wins her second Wimbledon.

Kvitova at Wimbledon

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    At this point just about anyone following the tournament should know by now that Kvitova is a Wimbledon champion. In 2011, at the age of 21, she won her first and only major. She's hungry for another.

    Kvitova has been serving like the men in this tournament: pure pace and power. She sends her opponents stabbing wide and buries their returns to the opposite end of the court. 

    This left-handed Czech has 38 aces. It's a high-risk, high-return approach to her game. When she lands the first serve in she wins 71.2 percent of those points. Her first-serve percentage is on the lower side, just 61.8 percent, but when she delivers those it's almost always a point in her favor.

Bouchard at Wimbledon

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    Bouchard reached the Wimbledon semifinal on her own abilities, yes, but also on the backs of some giant slayers. Alize Cornet beat Serena Williams, and Angelique Kerber took care of Maria Sharapova. Bouchard could not avoid playing No. 3 Halep. Bouchard would have to do it on her own if she was to defeat her first Top Five player.

    Tom Perrotta of The Wall Street Journal wrote of Bouchard:

    Eugenie Bouchard, the 20-year-old Canadian tennis star, likes to get in people's faces. She crowds them, bothers them, pushes them backward. At Wimbledon, she is attacking opponents with the tennis equivalent of a full-court press: She stands inside the baseline and smashes the ball whenever she can.

    She's growing stronger with every match and finally broke through to a Grand Slam final in 2014. She's poised and powerful, not to mention smothering in this year's Wimbledon.

The Biggest X-Factors

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    The biggest X-factor will be experience. How will the extent of Kvitova's experience help her, and how will the lack of it affect Bouchard?

    Bouchard was brilliant in her semifinal match against Halep, but she burned through five match points before finally winning in her sixth. That signifies that the pressure was getting to her. At that point in the match, Halep was doing nothing special. Halep was deflated and defeated, yet Bouchard still had trouble putting Halep away.

    Kvitova won this tournament in 2011 as a 21-year-old. She did it on the back of her serve. She's been on Centre Court with the eyes of British royalty looking upon her.

    Both players rely on power and aggression. Bouchard steps into her returns, taking most of them inside the baseline. She takes the game to her opponents, and this will be a big, big challenge against the powerful Kvitova.

    Nguyen wrote of Bouchard, "She's shown all year that she can deliver in the tight moments. On grass, where players don't have much time to think, Bouchard's clear game plan—hit big, hit early, hit often—pays off."

Kvitova Will Win If...

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    She serves like she did against Venus Williams.

    In Kvitova's third-round match against Williams, Kvitova landed 74 first serves in for 71 percent, her best of the tournament. She also had 11 aces.

    Nguyen wrote of Kvitova:

    This year she's come into Wimbledon under the radar. Despite the fact that she's the only former champion left in the tournament, no one is talking about her... She's playing with little pressure and it's shown in her game. She's hitting freely and moving well around the court. Given how big she hits the ball the match is always on Kvitova's racquet against anyone other than Serena Williams. This is a great opportunity for her to win her second Wimbledon title.

    Bouchard didn't play against anyone who hit quite as hard as Kvitova, and that's a big ace up her sleeve. Pun definitely intended.

Bouchard Will Win If...

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    The moment doesn't overwhelm her.

    Perhaps she didn't close out Halep as quick because she was up 5-1 and 5-2 and figured she had the time. Had Halep broken Bouchard to go to 5-3, then held serve to 5-4, things could have gotten interesting real fast.

    It never came to that. It took Bouchard six match points to put Halep out of her misery. Halep rolled her ankle in the first set, and Bouchard relentlessly tested Halep throughout the rest of the match. Halep looked like a crumpled soda can when it was all done.

    Bouchard showed moments of poise while down in the first-set tiebreak and took advantage of her aggression and spot-on ground strokes to beat Halep into submission. 

    If Bouchard remains cool (which for the most part she has) and punishes Kvitova into the far corners of the court, Bouchard could win the first of many Grand Slams.


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    This is tough. This is real tough. 

    Bouchard and Kvitova are big, strong, powerful hitters. Kvitova relies on her serve more than Bouchard does. It will be interesting to see how Bouchard reacts to Kvitova's ad-court serve to her backhand. That could put Bouchard at a disadvantage. 

    Will Bouchard be able to return inside the baseline as she has the entire tournament, or will Kvitova be too strong for her to react? The debate could rage until Saturday morning.

    It's time for a new star to take up the mantle, and Bouchard is ready to do just that. Bouchard told Wimbledon.com:

    Tennis is something I've played for 15 years now. I've put in a lot of hard work on the court. So, you know, results that come for me, in the back of my mind I expected them because I've put in so much time and effort. I have that true belief that I deserve these results when I get them.