Kvitova's fearless attack can fire a new generation

It scarcely seems apposite to talk in terms of a "flowering" – whether in Eastern Europe, or the women's game overall – through the agency of Petra Kvitova.

Her forehand meets the ball like a cedar branch ripped by a typhoon. Even so, her maiden Grand Slam final today not only confirms the blossoming of her own, formidable talent, but also contributes to a broader renewal.

Kvitova's meeting with Maria Sharapova guarantees the youngest Wimbledon champion since her opponent's precocious success here in 2004. Sharapova is now 24; Kvitova, meanwhile, was one of three 21-year-olds to complete the semi-final line-up.

With so little tennis between them since last year, the Williams sisters are easily excused their failure to seal a 10th success in 12. It would indeed have reflected bleakly upon the next generation, had Serena and Venus fared much better after prolonged injury, at 29 and 31. As it was, their expulsion on Monday seemed validly suggestive of a new era.

Some have sought to present the proliferation of different contenders, during their absence, as evidence of a void in genuine star quality. But it is not always easy to recognise the dawn of a new era. Billie Jean King, Virginia Wade and Margaret Court won their first Slam titles within seven months. The last time there were four younger semi-finalists here was 2003, when Serena, Venus, Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin averaged 21 years and six months.

As winner of three Slam titles, Sharapova sets Kvitova an exacting standard. And nobody knows better that each new generation shares perennial advantages and disadvantages. In her ferocious march to the final, Kvitova has exhibited all the energy and belief of youth, unimpaired by past battles. It is only now, on the biggest stage of her career, that its innocent vulnerabilities will also be examined.

Recalling herself at 17, Sharapova acknowledges that inexperience can be a double-edged sword. "You almost have that feeling of nothing to lose and you go for it," she said. "I didn't really know what was going to happen [in 2004]. I knew I was facing a former champion. But that didn't really bother me."

Sabine Lisicki duly came out and won the first three games of their semi-final, before Sharapova brought her experience to bear. She had herself abetted Lisicki with some deplorable serving, and accumulated 13 double faults through the match – as many as Kvitova in the entire tournament.

That is one auspicious measure of the Czech left-hander's temperament. If her nerve holds, she can also be expected to seize upon any slackness in Sharapova's serving. Kvitova's instinct is to attack hard, and attack early. With 39 return winners, she has hit nine more than any other player and 17 more than Sharapova. At the same time, the all-out power game must keep her on the edge, on the perilous margins of error.

Among the men, she compares her game to that of Juan Martin del Potro. "We both play flat and fast," she said. "We go for the point." Sharapova herself being no shrinking violet, there is obvious scope for fireworks today. For all her elegance, the Russian's game is underpinned by the flinty courage that sustained her comeback since shoulder surgery in the autumn of 2008. She has, moreover, had a painless passage to the final, yet to drop a set and detained beyond 90 minutes only by Laura Robson.

But Kvitova was ranked 62 when beaten by Serena in the semi-final in last year's tournament – before which she had never even won a match on grass – and is demonstrably on the rise. Now No 8, she is one of no fewer than eight compatriots in the top 100; and, following Tomas Berdych last year, becomes the second consecutive Czech to make a final here. The last left-hander to win the Venus Rosewater Dish was her idol, Martina Navratilova, by then a naturalised American. But she was Czech by birth, of course, and together with Jana Novotna, Hana Mandlikova and Ivan Lendl provided both legacy and example.

She has the blood; she has the power. Will she have the mind? In her own, inadvertently vivid expression yesterday: "I don't know. It will be hard, for sure. You know, it's the first time for me. I will see what it will be in the head, during the match."



Wimbledon Details

Weather

Today: Cloudy, mainly dry. Max temp: 22C

Tomorrow: Warm with cloudy intervals. Max temp: 24C

Television Times

Today: BBC 1 1-6.15pm, BBC 2 6.10-8pm.

Highlights: BBC 2 8-9pm

Tomorrow: BBC 1 1.05-5.30pm, BBC 2 5.30-8pm. H'lights: BBC 2 10.30-11.30pm

Life and Style
Social media users in Mexico who commented on cartel violence have been killed in the past
techTweets not showing up or loading this morning, users say
Sport
premier leagueLive: All the latest news and scores from today's matches
News
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
News
politics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Sport
Fans of Dulwich Hamlet FC at their ground Champion Hill
footballFans are rejecting the £2,000 season tickets, officious stewarding, and airline-stadium sponsorship
News
Shami Chakrabarti
people
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has refused to deny his involvement in the upcoming new Star Wars film
filmBenedict Cumberbatch reignites Star Wars 7 rumours
Sport
football
News
news
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker