Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon 2014 files: Eugenie Bouchard’s so cool heading into the unknown, but finals can do funny things to people and Petra Kvitova has experience and power...
Friday 04 July 2014
There has been no one at Wimbledon this year who has appeared cooler than Eugenie Bouchard. She has matched even Roger Federer for looking absolutely in control of what is happening out there. Even when she faced a barrage of break points in her quarter-final against a pumped-up Angelique Kerber, there was not a flicker from Bouchard. This is one collected 20-year-old.
But this afternoon is going to be a whole new ball game for the young woman from Montreal. This is a Grand Slam final, the Wimbledon final, out there on Centre Court, with the world watching on.
I tell you guys, she has never experienced anything like this before. Can she keep her cool when the pressure is turned up as high as it can go in this sport, turned up to the max, man? The true champion can, and the true champion has to.
We saw what happened to Sabine Lisicki last year when the occasion got to her and the title went to Marion Bartoli. Now remember that Petra Kvitova, as well as being a damned good player, has been here before. She had to go through what Bouchard will this afternoon three years ago with a former champion on the other side of the net.
I guess what Kvitova managed to do against Maria Sharapova in 2011 can act as a lesson for Bouchard for this afternoon. Kvitova conquered the occasion as well as her opponent. Straight sets, bang, bang.
Can Bouchard do that against the Czech? That is going to be the first key to this contest, but there is more than one door to unlock to get to that trophy.
All the signs are that Bouchard has the nerve to go out there and play her usual game, have those blinkers on, play the points not the scoreboard or the occasion, and go for it as she likes to do. But finals can do funny things to people.
Kvitova is only four years older but that is half a lifetime in tennis terms, so it makes this a bit of a Momma Bear against Baby Bear match-up. Kvitova has the edge in experience.
OK, so let’s get this match under way, and take it that Bouchard has the occasion under control. If that’s so, it has the makings of a classic confrontation – left versus right, both players who like to go for it, both fierce competitors and two players who have been playing well to get here. Between them they have dropped only one set – Kvitova going behind against Serena Williams.
If you get a good leftie playing well, then they are hard for a rightie to beat. Kvitova has a strong first serve and, especially when she goes wide with it, it’s a weapon that can win tennis matches.
Bouchard’s first serve is pretty smart too, hard for an opponent to get at, and she needs it to be roaring because her second is not so smart.
Neither is Kvitova’s, but she has done enough to win points on it through the rounds here. She was won, on average, in the mid-60 per cent of second serve points.
That drops when it comes to Bouchard’s stats. It was 45 per cent in her quarter and semi-final. There is an obvious solution to that (ahead of working on it over the next couple of years) – get those goddamn first serves in.
Once the ball is in play, I like how Bouchard delivers. She stands on the baseline, or even further forward, and that allows her to take the ball early. She did that excellently in the quarters and the semis and it was a major reason why she will be walking out on Centre this afternoon.
It gets the ball back at the opponent quicker, hurries them, and it is coming at you with real power too. This girl hits the ball hard. So does Kvitova and we could see one hell of a power surge out there.
The temptation here is to sit on the fence because I think Bouchard will handle the occasion – there was no suggestion in the semi-final of any nerves at all – but hey, guys, if you sit on the fence too long it starts to hurt. OK, so here goes. I’m going for Kvitova. Just.
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