Wimbledon 2014: Petra Kvitová v Eugenie Bouchard

Laura Robson uses IBM SlamTracker to analyse the Wimbledon final between 2011 champion Petra Kvitová and Canadian Eugenie Bouchard

laura_robson_2950731jby Laura Robson

July 4, 2015 – Saturday’s women’s final, between 2011 champion Petra Kvitová and 20-year-old Canadian Eugenie Bouchard, is a mouth-watering contest, pitting the two form players against each other – they have only dropped one set between them so far. Something has got to give, but I really wouldn’t be confident about picking a winner.

genieI’ve known Genie, as she is called on the tennis circuit, for a decade now. We are the same age and in my first tournament abroad – a small under-12 competition in France – we were actually paired together by chance in the doubles, because I couldn’t speak French then, and she hailed from Westmount, which is an English-speaking enclave in Montreal.

It’s amazing to see how Genie’s game has improved – she has been playing so well this year. Already she has made two grand slam semi-finals, in Australia and French, and now she has become the first Canadian to reach the final in SW19.

She certainly seems to be able to put it together when it really counts, though, and on Monday will break in to the top-10 for the first time. She is currently 13th in the rankings, but she should be eighth or higher, depending on how her final with Petra goes.

Genie has played on Centre Court a couple of times this Championships already, and is yet to drop a set. She may be nervous, but she has a knack of not showing it and her rivals think that she won’t drop mentally.

IBM SlamTracker has worked out that when Genie has won 36 per cent of her points when returning in three shots or less she has chalked up a set-success rate of 88 per cent. Further, when she has managed to win 42 per cent of first-serve returns than she has claimed 92 per cent of her sets, which is impressive and highlights her attacking style.

Genie is able to take the ball so early. In her recent matches she has been standing so far in front of her baseline, taking time away from her opponents, which ruffles and rushes them. On grass especially it is tough to deal with that, especially when she is hitting it deep. She has improved on being able to keep at that level over three sets or so. Last year, when she started to break through, she had some ups and downs during matches, but now she is very solid.

petraIn her semi-final win we saw her stepping in and picking off Simona Halep’s serve, but with Kvitová’s serve being such a big weapon it will be trickier for her to do that on Saturday. I’m sure she will still try, and get herself in to a good position really quickly.

For me it is pretty much impossible to choose who will win on Saturday. The only time they have met before was on a different surface in Toronto last August. Mentally Bouchard is a much stronger player now; she is much more confident and she expects to win. At the same time Petra is playing better now than she was then, and she succeeded 6-3 6-2 on that occasion.

For Petra, SlamTracker has calculated that when she has hit aces in 15 per cent or more of her first serves she has won 83 per cent of her sets. For someone who hit 36 across the whole tournament en route to victory in 2011, this is attainable if she is on her game.

I really enjoy watching the 24-year-old – I commentated on her semi-final victory over fellow-Czech Lucie Šafářová on Thursday (and I’ll also be in the box for BBC Radio 5 live Live for Saturday’s match). She started off quite nervously and it was a bit up and down in the first set, but when she got going she dominated, winning the second and final set 6-1. It was over in a flash. When she is on it, she is very tough to beat, and in this form too much to handle.

Petra has only dropped one set, and that was in the best women’s match of The Championships in her third-round clash with Venus Williams. It was amazing how well they both served, for a long time.

SlamTracker also points out that when she has won 35 per cent of her points when returning in three shots or fewer, she has notched up 88 per cent of her sets – so it’s a similar key for both girls. We can expect a lot of aggression, especially from Petra, early on. She doesn’t rely on it, but her game works a lot better when she does a one-two combination with the leftie serve and hitting the winner on the next ball. Genie will try to go for the big shots and get Kvitová out of position.

Petra, who beat Maria Sharapova at this stage three years ago, will be going in to the match thinking: “I have done this before, I have the experience.” It might be enough to drag her through, but with Genie became a crowd favourite I wouldn’t like to bet against her winning her first grand slam title.

Change how you talk about the game at wimbledon.com/slamtrackeror via #whoknew and #IBM on Twitter

this article appeared first at – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/tennis/fantasy-tennis/10945637/wimbledon-Petra-Kvitova-Eugenie-Bouchard.html



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