If Petra Kvitova has ever played better, it was never in a match as big as a Wimbledon final. Her shot-making was dazzling, and her movement and defence so vastly improved that it seemed almost surreal.
“Maybe it was magic,’’ smiled Kvitova, after dominating Eugenie Bouchard 6-3, 6-0.
“I was really prepared for everything. I know I have to go for every, every shot what she played. I think that for her then it wasn't really easy when she saw that I'm really running and putting everything back to her. Probably when I am in the zone I'm doing these things.’’
There were times, Kvitova said, that she not only reached balls she did not expect to get, but also did almost unbelievably well when she got there. “Really, for the first time I said, ‘Oh, my God, this is good! I can really run and put everything back'.’’
Has she ever played better? “I don’t think so,’’ said the sixth seed, who will return to the top four next week. “Definitely was one of the best matches what I played. I knew that I could play well on the grass, but I really played so well today. I exactly know what I have to play to beat her.
“I just did really everything what I could in the moment. I was very focused for every point. I knew that I have to go forward for every shot what I'm playing to push her. Yeah, I did it.’’
The wow factor was immense. The backhand crosscourt winners were spectacular, the flat, deep, easy power from everywhere simply blew first-time finalist Bouchard away. Big lefty serve: excellent. Returns: commanding. Movement better than it has ever been. Winners: 28 to eight.
The 24-year-old Czech has admitted there were some challenging times after her breakthrough win three years ago, what with handling all the expectations, pressures, and fame. Likeable, modest and rather shy, Kvitova remained in the top 10, and peaked at No.2, but until this fortnight had not been back in a major final.
“I was still believing in me that I can really have it for a second time, some grand slam (success),’’ Kvitova said. “I don't want to think about the Wimbledon again, but I want it really too much… I mean, it was certainly great journey for me here.
“It's mean everything, definitely. I mean, it's a Wimbledon. Tennis here is tennis history. The centre court always great to play on. I feel really like at home. I was really up and down after my title here 2011. I was still work hard, believe in myself. My team believed in me as well. We did good job and I'm just glad I have it for a second time.’’
After match point, the ecstasy. Flat on her back. Tears in her eyes. More emotion when she made her way up to see her coach, team and family, and then at the presentation of her second Venus Rosewater Dish, the retractable roof having been closed against the fast-approaching rain.
Bouchard, in contrast, looked a little stunned, undeniably deflated. After not having dropped a set in the tournament, the rising 20-year-old, had not come close to winning either of these.
“I felt like I started well, and was in there,’’ said Bouchard, who will hit a rankings peak of No.7 on Monday. “But I didn't feel like I was able to play my game. She really took the chances away from me and was really putting a lot of pressure on me. I didn't have that many opportunities. But sometimes your opponent just plays better than you, and that's what happened today.
“I think it's a tough road to try to become as good as I want to be, no matter what. I'm not going to win every single time. I think this was a good experience for me, my first slam final. I'm going to learn a lot from this match and hopefully use it to get much better.’’
The 20-year-old Canadian who has made such an impression in just her second appearance in an All England Club main draw could make no impact on the dominating Kvitova game; the clean, flat, overwhelming power off both wings, including on the return, as well as her imposing leftie serve.
This is the sort of tennis that has been seen only sporadically since expectations were raised by the Czech's 6-3, 6-4 upset of Maria Sharapova in the 2011 final. She was the favourite this time, but not overwhelmingly.
Overwhelmed, though was Bouchard. Helpless, too. She was outplayed and outclassed in just 55 minutes, Kvitova nailing one last backhand winner on her first match point.
"She is playing some of the best tennis I have ever seen," said 1999 champion Lindsay Davenport in the commentary box, as Kvitova thundered through a 23-minute second set. It was the quickest women's final since Martina Navratilova took one minute less to beat Andrea Jaeger in 1983.
The 24-year-old then dropped to her back on the court, before becoming the first player to walk through the newly installed "champion's gate" to her friends' box, thus avoiding the traditional clamber first completed by Australian Pat Cash back in 1987 and repeated so many times since.
"It's hard to think that she won't win three, four, five Wimbledons on what you're seeing right now," said John McEnroe.
Last year's first-time finalist, Sabine Lisicki unravelled in 81 tearful minutes on centre court against Marion Bartoli last year, but although Bouchard is a steelier character, there was simply nothing the youngest grand slam finalist in almost five years could do. Expect her to return with an even stronger resolve, for this was just her sixth grand slam main draw, and the 13th seed is already assured of becoming the newest member of the top 10.
Which will be small consolation right now, although she managed a muted smile when given a warm ovation at the presentation. This was Kvitova's day, and how she deserved it.
Kvitova has struggled at times since her first great moment came three years ago. "I just wanted to be here again with the trophy,'' she said, before tearfully acknowledging her team and her family. "I can't say that it's more special, but definitely after three years to stand here with the trophy again it's absolutely amazing.
"It's my second title so now I hope it's going to be a little bit easier for me,'' the sixth seed continued, joking that she has a lot of work to do to emulate the Wimbledon record of another Czech, nine-time singles champion Martina Navratilova.
A subdued Bouchard congratulated Kvitova, then admitted: "It was really tough for me today.'' But, she said it was also "a step in the right direction. I don't know if I deserve all your love today but I do appreciate it.''
The story Petra Kvitova wins Wimbledon title over Eugenie Bouchard first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.