When Wimbledon began, few people probably had Eugenie Bouchard facing Petra Kvitova in the final. After all, Bouchard is just 20 years old and has never reached a Grand Slam final, while Kvitova has reached just one.
But in hindsight, perhaps the two aren't such unlikely finalists. Bouchard has reached the semifinals in all three Grand Slams this year, while Kvitova always seems at home on the Wimbledon grass. How at home? She won the tournament in 2011 and has reached the quarterfinals in every year since 2010, winning 25 of her last 28 matches at Wimbledon.
The players employ a different style, that much is for sure. Kvitova is a powerful player, arguably the most powerful player on the tour not named Serena Williams. Consistency has always been her issue, but when she routinely keeps the ball between the lines, most opponents simply can't deal with her.
Jon Wertheim of SI.com broke down her performances thus far:
As she’s done all tournament, Kvitova has played crisp tennis, pounding the ball with power and depth, pinning her opponents behind the baseline. Also, she has kept her head in the tense moments -- in this case, the first-set tiebreak that effectively decided the match. If she can sustain this level of play on Saturday, she has an excellent chance to win a second title.
Bouchard doesn't rely on power so much as she does on aggression, to the point that comparisons have been made between her and Monica Seles, as Tom Perrotta of The Wall Street Journal passed along:
'The whole point of any sport is to put your opponent in a state of emergency,' said ex-pro Mary Carillo, who is now a commentator for Tennis Channel. 'Monica Seles was the greatest match player I've ever seen, and that's all she did. Bouchard is using that business model: smothering the ball.'
This approach used to be more common in the days of Seles and Jennifer Capriati, but it fell out of favor as players began to hit with more topspin and looked to win long rallies. Bouchard hits flat shots and has quick enough hands to corral a ball with a lot of spin.
When returning second serves, she routinely stands inside the baseline and then moves even closer to hit the ball as soon as it bounces. In rallies, Bouchard doesn't let up. She hits from inside the baseline as often as possible and hits lots of swinging volleys.
As you might have guessed, this presents an interesting clash of styles. With her power, Kvitova is often able to keep players behind the baseline. With her aggression, Bouchard often plays inside the baseline and looks to dictate the point (and quickly, at that). So the natural question is simple: Which style wins out?
The past doesn't offer us much of an answer, since the two players have met just once in Toronto in 2013. Kvitova won that match, but it could be argued that both players are playing on a different level than they did back then.
But generally speaking, power players dictate the match so long as they consistently hit their shots. It's how Serena Williams has maintained her dynasty over the women's game for so many years, and it's how Kvitova won her title in 2011 at Wimbledon.
If she can keep her first serves in, avoid getting lax on rallies or getting caught out of position by quick Bouchard returns and consistently keep the ball in play, she should win this match. It's going to be a heck of a contest, however, and there should be plenty of twists and turns.
But when in doubt, go with the player who has proven she can win a title at this tournament before. It will take Kvitova three sets, but she'll delay the inevitable ascension to stardom for Bouchard and win her second Wimbledon title.
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