If things progressed the way they were supposed to, without any initial upsets, the third round match between two former champions – Venus Williams and Petra Kvitova – promised a lot of intrigue.
Neither player was at her peak. Illnesses battering her body had reduced Venus to a pale shadow of herself. A fact more keenly felt at Wimbledon than anywhere else, where Venus was once at her dominating best – winning five titles. But just like everything else about her game, her dominance at Wimbledon has come to be reduced to a thing of the past with early exits dotting her trajectory in these past few years.
While Kvitova, though managing to hang onto her ranking within the top-10 was nowhere close to her best that saw her win her first major here, three years ago.
It was therefore expected to be a battle of wills more than a contest of tactical abilities. As difficult as it was to predict a winner, thinking about the person who would be left at the other end was equally distressing.
The match proceedings, more than lived up to their expectations with straightforward holds of serve from both players, instead of the more erratic pattern of serve-and-break curve that has come to be seen in the women's game in recent times. The ground strokes that both players exchanged at the baseline were sublimely enthralling as were drop shots and volleys that the occasional forays into the net brought forth.
At no point in the match did it seem like a one-sided contest as both ladies tussled in the middle to remain the last one standing. The match grew qualitatively potent in the later stages. Most of the match statistics point as much. Three full quota of sets, including one tie-break and just three break points. Two faced by Venus, including the match point in the third set that Kvitova eventually converted, and one for Venus in the opening set for her to go one set to love up.
As the match progressed however, Venus's inability to cope up with the barrage of ground strokes that Kvitova kept directing her way from the baseline started to get more pronounced. Kvitova's ability to redirect her shot placement preventing Venus from getting to them not only allowed her to retain her serve easily, but also allowed her to get back in Venus' service games and put pressure on the veteran American.
At the net though, it was the American who had the upper hand winning 76% of the points over Kvitova's 75%. And despite the slightness of this difference, it is undeniable that of the two, Venus seemed more at ease at the net than playing from the baseline. This aspect also raises doubts whether the result could have gone Venus' way had she chosen to approach the net more often rather than play a safe and cautious game from the baseline, allowing her younger opponent to dictate terms and plot her ousting so consummately at the Centre Court on Day Five.
Petra Kvitova beat Venus Williams 5-7, 7-6(2), 7-5.
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- Petra Kvitova
- Venus Williams