Tennis: Kvitova beats Sharapova to win Wimbledon title

AP, Saturday 2 Jul 2011

Petra Kvitova won her first Grand Slam title Saturday by beating Maria Sharapova 6-3, 6-4 in the Wimbledon final, and then dropped to her knees in disbelief

Kvitova & Sharapova
Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic holds the winners trophy & Maria Sharapova of Russia holding the runners-up trophy at Wimbledon

Kvitova was playing in her first major final, but it was three-time Grand Slam champion Sharapova that showed her nerves. The 2004 Wimbledon champion double-faulted six times, including twice to get broken to 4-2 in the first set.

"Unfortunately in tennis there's only one winner at the end of the day and that's what makes this tournament so special," Sharapova said before turning her attention to Kvitova. "So big congratulations on a wonderful victory, you played a wonderful tournament." The 21-year-old Kvitova is the first left-handed woman to win the Wimbledon title since Martina Navratilova in 1990.

Using a fast-paced and well-placed forehand, Kvitova did little wrong on Centre Court as Czech greats Navratilova and Jana Novotna sat in the Royal Box with a host of other former Wimbledon champions.

"It's hard to find some words if I'm standing here with the trophy and see the great players in the Royal Box," Kvitova said. "Well, I'm so happy that I won." Kvitova kept Sharapova on the run with 18 winners, and never seemed to lose confidence despite being broken three times.

"Of course I was nervous," Kvitova said. "I thought I can win Wimbledon. But I had to focus on each point." Sharapova was the clear favorite entering the match.

Besides winning the title at the All England Club in 2004, she also won the U.S. Open in 2006 and the Australian Open in 2008. Shoulder surgery in October 2008 slowed her career, but she returned to the semifinals at a Grand Slam tournament for the first time since 2008 at the French Open last month.

"I've had amazing support over so many years and to be back at this stage and holding the runner-up trophy this year is something that _ obviously I would have wanted that big one, it's something I'm going to be back for and I'm hoping to get again," Sharapova said.

Sharapova had not lost a set heading into the final. But she struggled with her serve in the semifinals, double-faulting 13 times before beating German wildcard Sabine Lisicki.

Sharapova won the toss at the net before the final and elected to receive, perhaps because she wanted some time to get into game action before serving.

Whatever the reason, it appeared to be a smart move because she broke for a 1-0 lead as Kvitova missed three forehands.

Sharapova's serve was then tested for the first time in the next game, and although she only had one fault in five attempts, she lost four of the points to even the score at 1-1.

Sharapova wasted her second chance at a break in the third game, and then gifted a break to Kvitova a few games later.

With the score 30-30, Sharapova produced her second double-fault of the match. The third came two swings later.

Trailing 5-2, Sharapova double-faulted again to open the eighth game. But she did manage to hold and force Kvitova to serve out the set.

Kvitova broke Sharapova again in the opening game of the second set, with the Russian double-faulting for the fifth time to give the Czech a break point.

The pair twice traded breaks later in the set, but Kvitova held to win the championship dish for the first time.

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