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Kvitova beats Maria Sharapova to title

London, July 2 (Agencies)
Published on 2 Jul. 2011 11:09 PM IST
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Czech eighth seed Petra Kvitova outplayed former champion Maria Sharapova to win her first Grand Slam title at Wimbledon. The 21-year-old’s shot-making ability proved too much for Sharapova in a 6-3 6-4 victory on Centre Court. Kvitova is the first Czech since Jana Novotna in 1998 to win Wimbledon, and Novotna and former Czech great Martina Navratilova were in the Royal Box. “It’s hard to find some words,” Kvitova told BBC Sport afterwards. “I’m standing here with the trophy and I see some great players in the Royal Box. It’s very nice that Martina Navratilova and Jana Novotna are watching me and have supported me all the time during the tournament and gave me some advice.” In a final of eight breaks of serve, it was 2004 champion Sharapova who was under the greater pressure to hold - an issue she has struggled to deal with since coming back from shoulder surgery. Sharapova suffered a rash of double faults in her French Open semi-final defeat by Li Na last month, and the attack-minded Kvitova was quickly on to any short deliveries. The Czech was by far the less experienced of the finalists and three-time Grand Slam winner Sharapova looked ready to take advantage of that with an early break, but Kvitova levelled immediately with some piercing returns. It was two double faults in a row from Sharapova that shifted the balance of power decisively as it handed Kvitova a 4-2 lead, and although the Russian saved a set point with an ace it did not prevent her from losing the set. In previous matches, Kvitova had lost concentration after some strong starts, but there was no sign of that when a breathtaking forehand winner down the line gave her a break at the start of the second set. Sharapova, desperate to return to Grand Slam winning ways, fought back to level at 2-2 with a fine backhand lob and again at 3-3 with a fine return, but the 24-year-old fifth seed just could not get a foothold in her own service games. She crumbled once again as Kvitova sent back a barrage of heavy returns, and when the Czech held for 5-3 she was almost there. Sharapova did make her young opponent serve for the title but Kvitova played a nerveless game, moving to 40-0 and choosing championship point to send down her first ace of the day before sinking to the turf in triumph. Meanwhile, Rafael Nadal ended the Wimbledon hopes of British number one Andy Murray for the second year in a row with a four-set victory in their semi-final. The defending champion from Spain came through 5-7 6-2 6-2 6-4 and will play Novak Djokovic in Sunday’s final. And while Nadal targets a third Wimbledon and 11th Grand Slam win, Murray is still without a major title. The Scot has now lost three successive Wimbledon semi-finals, and the wait for a British champion goes on. Fred Perry remains the last homegrown men’s singles champion with his 1936 triumph, and there is every chance that Murray will one day have to find a way past Nadal - one year his senior at 25 - if he is to ever get his hands on the Wimbledon trophy. Murray had won only four of his previous 15 matches against Nadal, and lost in straight sets at the same stage of Wimbledon last year. There was an early scare for the Briton when the trainer was called at 2-1 to deliver pain killers as a hip injury appeared to have flared up, but he waved the assistance away when he returned at the next changeover. A tie-break loomed but Nadal, who came into the match with a lingering foot injury, played a loose game at 5-6 to fall 0-40 down, and gave up the set with a backhand into the net. The momentum was well and truly with Murray and he had a great chance at 2-1, 15-30, in the second set but fired an inviting mid-court forehand long and it appeared to derail him. A double-fault gave Nadal a break point in the following game and Murray blazed a smash over the baseline to fall 3-2 behind, before another sloppy service game all but handed over the set. It might only have been one set all, but Murray’s hopes seemed to be hanging in the balance as early as the start of the third and, after saving two break points with a volley and an ace, to lose his sixth straight game. Nadal was in the groove now and made it seven in a row, clamping down on unforced errors to such an extent that a loose forehand at 3-2 was his first since the opening set. 

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