Thursday 30 June 2011

Wimblemund 2011, day 10

Petra Kvitova bt. Victoria Azarenka 6-1, 3-6, 6-2
Maria Sharapova bt. Sabine Lisicki 6-4, 6-3

For a number of reasons (shut up, jokers) I've watched more of the Ladies Singles at this year's Wimbledon than in recent times, a fact that has been reflected in these blog posts. I think it's been because that side of the draw has provided more surprise results and good stories than the men's section, which had to wait 9 days until the first major surprise.

Saturday's final, then, will be between Petra Kvitova and Maria Sharapova. Kvitova is the first left-handed woman to reach the final in 17 years and should she win she'll be the first southpaw champion since 1990, coincidentally the year of her birth. It's this left-handed serve which is causing so many problems to her rivals. In fact, there's little doubting that her game has all the necessary qualities to win her a first Grand Slam title, especially against Maria Sharapova's post-shoulder surgery super-special shonky serve.

What makes Sharapova overwhelming favourite, however, is her mental strength as much as her extra experience. Kvitova ruthlessly outplayed and overpowered Victoria Azarenka today but still needed 3 sets to see her off, a similar story to her quarter-final against Tsvetana Pironkova. Sharapova, meanwhile, is yet to drop a set - in spite of going 3-0 down in the first set of today's game. Her sternest test so far came from Laura Robson in Round 2, Robson taking the Russian to a first set tie-break. Today's performance was hardly Federeresque, but it was enough to get the job done. I expect her to do the same on Saturday afternoon.

However, stranger things have happened - Sharapova herself beating Serena Williams in the 2004 final aged 17 being one example. If Kvitova does manage to prevail, there's every chance it will give her the self-confidence boost to push her up to the top table in women's tennis.

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