An action-packed weekend of Wimbledon highlighted the prowess of the tournament’s finalists, with the men’s final between Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer and the women’s final between Petra Kvitova and Eugenie Bouchard offering two impressive spectacles.
Sunday’s men’s final was a close affair. A testament to the benefits of continued focus and training, the evergreen Federer entered the Wimbledon final many doubted he would be able to reach again in high spirits and with a strong support from the crowd, clearly grateful for the years of entertaining tennis he has provided. Taking an early lead, the Swiss won the first set in a tie break before being pegged back by a resilient Djokovic, who claimed victory in the second and third sets. Taking momentum into the fourth set, Djokovic could potentially clinch his second Wimbledon title, having previously won the tournament in 2011. He was met, however, with a resurgent Federer who came back to win the fourth set, surviving a match point opportunity for Djokovic and winning an astounding five games in a row.
But Djokovic, demonstrating the strength of character that epitomises his playing style, emerged victorious from an energy-sapping final set. Federer, despite a strong performance, eventually succumbed to the strength, composure and energy of the younger Serbian, who claimed the last set 6-4 in the first time a final has reached the fifth set since 2009 when Federer overcame rival Andy Roddick in an epic 16-14 tie break.
Federer, despite coming so close to claiming the record number of Wimbledon titles outright (currently sharing the record of seven wins with Pete Sampras), remained in good spirits following the match and congratulated his opponent, with whom he clearly shares a great mutual respect. Challenging the younger man and finishing a respectable runner up at the age of 32, Federer took further steps to cement his status as one of the finest tennis players in the history of the sport. Djokovic meanwhile, reclaimed his position as World Number One, gaining ground on rivals Nadal and Murray following the somewhat surprising victories of promising youngster Nick Kyrgios and rising star Grigor Dmitrov.
If what characterised the men’s final was its close competition and long duration, the women’s final was in many ways its antithesis. Emerging talent Eugenie Bouchard was quickly dispatched by the more experienced Petra Kvitova, who won her second Wimbledon title (coincidentally having, like Djokovic, previously won in 2011). Kvitova’s performance was so dominant, winning in straight sets of 6-3 6-0, that questions have arisen surrounding the match’s effect on her young opponent. There remain however, many positives 20 year old Bouchard can take from the experience. A power-hitter, Bouchard is used to dictating games, pushing her opponent around the court until a winning angle presents itself. She found herself matched and ultimately bested by the similar physicality of Kvitova’s game. Kvitova, whose accuracy when aiming for tight angles is perhaps unparalleled in the modern game, was more than equal to Bouchard’s powerful strikes of the ball, which left the young Canadian flat-footed and unable to handle her more experienced opponent’s powerful and well placed returns.
It might at first appear that this setback would dent Bouchard’s confidence, reputation, and potential. However, it is in this deconstruction of her typical style that she may find the means to truly progress as a player. Rather than becoming over-reliant on her strength and too used to managing the flow of games, her focus can now shift to improving her movement across the court and to becoming more ruthless in her angled play.
By exposing this while she is still young enough to improve and adapt, Eugenie Bouchard has been forced to re-evaluate, and it is this re-evaluation which will, in the long run, aid her achieving her full potential.
How can Eugenie Bouchard learn and improve from this experience?