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Wimbledon: Petra Kvitova back in big time

Czech out to use SW19 joy as springboard to greater things

By Paul Newman

Petra Kvitova is thrilled to have proved she is no one-hit wonder. The Czech produced a stunning performance in the Wimbledon final on Saturday to defeat Eugenie Bouchard 6-3 6-0, lifting the Venus Rosewater Dish again three years after first holding it aloft.

In 2011, Kvitova was the underdog but convincingly saw off Maria Sharapova to announce herself as a major new star of the women's game. But being thrust into the limelight as a shy 21-year-old proved too much to cope with, and inconsistency and doubt crept into her mind.

With her run at SW19, which included a very tough three-set win over Venus Williams in the third round, Kvitova proved the excitement about her three years ago was not misplaced.

"I'm enjoying it more than my first one," she said. "That time I didn't know how to feel and how everything was going to be, and it was a surprise to me.

"This time I'm so satisfied. I think it's more special for me that I can win it again. It was a lot of work and nobody really believed that I can play my best again and win another grand slam. I'm just glad I'm here again."

Kvitova's huge weapons, in particular her serve and forehand, made it all the more frustrating that her results were up and down.

Last year she was the only former champion to reach the quarter-finals at Wimbledon but lost to Kirsten Flipkens, while at the Australian Open in January she was beaten in the first round by little-known Thai Luksika Kumkhum.

"Always I have some worry, that's the same with everyone I think," said Kvitova.

"It was up and down in the three years after I won here and definitely there were times when I really didn't think I can win another grand slam but I vowed to work hard to try to do everything I can to be here again and be the Wimbledon champion."

One of the things that pleased Kvitova most over the past fortnight was the way in which she handled the pressure of favouritism.

It was very different in 2011 when, despite having reached the semi-finals the previous year, she was very much under the radar.

The 24-year-old said: "This tournament I played so well, maybe I can say that I played better than 2011.

"I played with the pressure, I was always the favourite of the match, and I still did a good job. It was very tough mentally and I'm just glad I had a mental coach who helped me.

"I know that I can play really well again and that's the important thing for me."

Kvitova began working with sports psychologist Michal Safar in 2010 and credits him with helping her to maintain her intensity.

"He helped me a lot to handle the pressure and to focus in every moment," she said.

"I can't imagine how the guys are doing it playing best of five sets. I really needed to learn that. I was a fighter, I was playing well but small things were missing."

The challenge for Kvitova now will be using Wimbledon as a springboard to more success rather than allowing it to overwhelm her.

She was beaten in the first round of the US Open in 2011, although she finished the season strongly.

Kvitova hopes familiarity will help her handle things better this time, saying: "I know how it feels to play after you are the Wimbledon champion.

"I didn't do so well last time so I want to be more prepared for that and to be ready for the next match, because it was something new and I really didn't know what I should do. Now I know a little bit and I will try to do better."

It was not the grand slam final debut that Bouchard had imagined but it is unlikely to be long before the determined Canadian gets another chance.

The 20-year-old is the only singles player to have reached the semi-finals at every slam so far this year, and she said: "I am very motivated to win a grand slam.

"It's been a lifelong dream of mine. I feel like I've taken steps in the right direction to achieve that. This year I've been close in every slam, so I'm just going to keep going."

Belfast Telegraph

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