Two years ago when Petra Kvitova won her first Grand Slam title at Wimbledon, the tennis world awaited for the then 21-year-old to power her way to the top of the women’s game. Since then, aside from two semi finals at the start of 2012, her performances at the majors have been disappointing. Although she gave a good account of herself defending her title against Serena Williams, since then her game has become wildly inconsistent. In her match against Laura Robson at the Australian Open, she hit a massive 51 unforced errors and has an almost 2:1 win loss ratio over the season.
Her game though is suited to grass and has an excellent record reaching the last eight in the past three years. With the limited amount of seeds that are left in the bottom half of the women’s draw and her grass court pedigree, you would think a second Grand Slam final would be a formality for the Czech. But the way she played against Ekaterina Makarova showed why you wouldn’t be shocked if she failed. After winning the first set reasonably comfortably, she lost eight games on the trot to the Russian before recuperating enough to win the match in the third set. If Kvitova plays the way she can on grass, then she should easily manage to reach the final. If she plays like she has been throughout 2013, Marion Bartoli and Flavia Pennetta will be rubbing their hands with glee.
Laura Robson is struggling with the pressure
The British public and media will never learn. Every time a British player wins more than two matches at Wimbledon, the pressure and hype surrounding them shifts from second gear to overdrive in just one change. It takes a really special player to be able to deal with this. Tim Henman struggled throughout his career and Sue Barker famously choked in her big year but so far Andy Murray seems to have risen above it to a degree. On the evidence so far, Britain’s new diamond girl Laura Robson is struggling.
After her decimating performance against Maria Kirlilenko, the pressure suddenly cascaded onto her young shoulders. And it has shown on her play. She usually struggles in ‘normal’ matches on the WTA tour to perform to her best but with all this added pressure, she has been almost crippled by nerves. It took her almost five games to get over them against Mariana Duque and almost two whole sets against Marina Erakovic. In truth, she shouldn’t even be in the fourth round as Erakovic choked badly serving for the match and at the start of the second set. Credit to Robson though, she was galvanised by a rejuvenated crowd and pulled through in the toughest of circumstances. However, if she wants to go further in this and future Wimbledon championships, she has to start her matches quicker and come out of the blocks firing, just like she did against Kirilenko when all the pressure was off her.
Djokovic lays down a marker
In a tournament that has seen so many shocks; two men in the main draw have restored normality to the draw. Murray has been almost faultless so far this tournament but today Novak Djokovic laid down a marker to show not just Murray but the whole British public that he is here to spoil the party. He has been his clinical, consistent and concise best in the first three rounds having almost no anxious moment throughout the entire five hours he’s been on court. In the first two sets against the dangerous Jeremy Chardy, he hit a total of zero unforced errors. That’s right. Zero.
He can take solace in the fact that this year, he doesn’t have the greatest player of all time in his half of the draw blocking his route to the final. Djokovic looked superb during last year’s tournament too until Federer beat him in four sets. Now though – although he has a tougher route to the final than Murray – he will be confident he can beat everyone remaining in his path to the final. David Ferrer is struggling having dropped at least one set in each of his matches and although Tomas Berdych and Juan Martin Del Potro have both won their most recent meetings with the Serb on grass, the world number one is a different player to the one they beat previously. Tommy Haas awaits in the next round on Monday but Djokovic knows if he keeps playing the way he has been, a second Wimbledon final surely awaits.