In 55 minutes of sheer bludgeoning brilliance, Petra Kvitova blew away her fancied challenger Eugenie Bouchard 6-3, 6-0 in the shortest and one of the most one-sided Wimbledon women’s singles finals of all time.
The tall, left-handed Czech unleashed a savage mix of powerful serves and returns-of-serve to subdue her young Canadian opponent, who simply had no answer to the brutal barrage.
The strategy, if this is the right word for a tactic as fundamental as this, was to dominate through sheer power and never take the foot off the pedal. The plan was to not allow Bouchard to settle down and keep the rallies as short as possible.
While returning serve, Kvitova stood on the baseline, stepping in to take the ball early either to go for outright winners or have her opponent scrambling.
There was no reprieve from the pressure applied by the Czech, and Bouchard responded by trying to hit her first serve even harder, which resulted in an extremely poor 46 per cent of first serves going in. This hardly helped her cause, and she may have fared better by trying to cut a little pace on the first serve in favour of placement and accuracy.
It also put more pressure on her second serve, which at an average of 85 mph, was consumed eagerly by a rampaging Kvitova. She was able to win only 42 per cent of her service points overall and a meagre 22 per cent on second serve in the second set that she lost to love.
From the moment Kvitova earned her first break in the match to go up 3-1, it became clear that Bouchard had no fall-back plan in the face of such unexpected firepower.
Quite surprisingly, she continued to stay on the baseline while receiving the Kvitova serve — inexplicable, given her difficulty in making proper contact. Rather than stay a few feet back and attempt to keep the ball in play, Bouchard persisted with trying to negotiate the serve by trying to take the ball early, which she was in no position to manage.
There was one flickering moment in the first set when Bouchard broke, thanks to a Kvitova double-fault, and it seemed the match may yet change gears. But that hope quickly faded with Kvitova breaking right back to take the set.
Kvitova did to Bouchard what she done, though a tad less emphatically, to Sharapova in the 2011 Wimbledon final, which was also won by the majesty of relentless power. If she was slightly underestimated in this tournament, it is because she has failed to reach any other Grand Slam final following that victory.
But no one will do that any longer, particularly at Wimbledon, where the grass is ideally suited to Kvitova’s game.
For Bouchard, who hadn’t dropped a set before coming into this match, the consolation lies in reaching a Grand Slam final in what has been a fabulous year.
Yes, she was humbled on Centre Court on Saturday afternoon, but the world of women’s tennis will hear a lot about this feisty and confident young lady in the days to come.