On the grass of Centre Court, is Petra Kvitova's bark worse than her bite, or vice versa? So far, a case can be made that the "bark" and the "bite" are equal. The Czech's signature barks have come loud and often during this tournament, as Kvitova has repeatedly hit aces and manipulated the ball with all those crazy angles that make opponents--even fast-moving ones--wonder what it was that just whizzed by.
The 2011 champion, looking very much like "herself," has hit 180 winners in 13 sets. Her confidence appears to be very high. After she beat Maria Sharapova in the 2011 final, the often-unintentionally hilarious Kvitova had this to say in reply to a question about how she did it: "Some special tactics, it wasn't."
Kvitova is generally not concerned about who is on the other side of the net--she's just serving big (or not) and going for a lot of everything. Not that she's unaware: You would have to live in a cave (sorry, Carl), so to speak, to not know that Genie Bouchard is going to hang inside the baseline and try to put a second-serve hoodoo on her Czech opponent in Saturday's final. When she's in form, however, Kvitova's second serves are good, and she can still control points with them.
Bouchard has been the beneficiary of a bit of good fortune in this tournament. She got an exhausted Angelique Kerber in the quarterfinals and an injured Simona Halep in the semifinals. For her part, the Canadian does not appear to be either tired or hurt, and she has taken all the Wimbledon twists and turns in stride.
The general prediction is that Bouchard will not be bothered by nerves during the final. It's possible--Simona Halep wasn't bothered by nerves in the French Open final, and it was her first time to play the last round of a major. The quickly-rising Canadian star has both the confidence and the killer instinct of the great Chris Evert, and may indeed face the occasion with a centered determination.
After she beat Lucie Safarova yesterday, Kvitova showed up on the ESPN set dressed in a white warm-up suit and hot pink shoes. Only the shoes hinted at the intensity underlying the Czech's understated pleasure at having finally reached another Wimbledon final. Bouchard called her own semifinal victory "a step in the right direction."
Bouchard and Kvitova have played each other only once before, and that was on a hard court last year in Toronto. Kvitova won that match in straight sets.
Some showers are predicted for tomorrow, so there's a strong possibility that the Centre Court roof will be closed.
Here are the players' paths to the final:
round 1: def. Daniela Hantuchova
round 2: def. Silvia Soler-Espinosa
round 3: def. Andrea Petkovic (20)
round of 16: def. Alize Cornet (25)
quarterfinals: def. Angelique Kerber (9)
semifinals: def. Simona Halep (3)
round 1: def. Andrea Hlavackova*
round 2: def. Mona Barthel
round 3: def. Venus Williams (30)
round of 16: def. Peng Shuai
quarterfinals: def. Barbora Zahlavova Strycova*
semifinals: def. Lucie Safarova (23)*
*How many players have had to defeat three of their countrywomen en route to a major final?!