Following yet another disappointing exit from this year’s Wimbledon Championships, questions need to be asked about whether Petra Kvitova can win a second Grand Slam title.
Serena Williams’ stunning fourth round exit at the hands of Sabine Lisicki on Monday left Kvitova as the only active former Wimbledon champion left in the draw, and along with Li Na, as the only two women who had experienced Grand Slam success.
On Tuesday, both women crashed out in their respective quarter-finals in three sets, meaning that there will be a new Grand Slam champion crowned this Saturday.
Of those two losses, Li’s loss to Agnieszka Radwanska was expected, but Kvitova’s wasn’t.
Williams’ fourth round demise was supposed to present the Czech with a golden opportunity to take advantage of a severely weakened quarterfinal line-up and reach her second Wimbledon final, to follow the title success she enjoyed in 2011.
Instead, Kvitova crashed out in three sets to Belgian Kirsten Flipkens, adding to her recent line of disappointing results at Grand Slam tournaments.
So far this year, she crashed out in the second round to Laura Robson at the Australian Open, and was sent packing in the third round by Jamie Hampton in Paris.
This follows a loss to Marion Bartoli at last year’s US Open, where she won the first set 6-1, only to collapse in the next two sets and blow a chance to become the only woman to reach all four Grand Slam quarterfinals in 2012. She lost the final set 6-0.
What makes the latter loss more surprising is that Kvitova had thrashed Bartoli for the loss of just two games en route to winning the Rogers Cup in Montreal, just before the US Open, last year.
After she won the first set against Flipkens 6-4, it appeared she was well on her way to a first Grand Slam semi-final since Roland Garros last year, where Maria Sharapova thrashed her en route to completing a Career Grand Slam.
But from there it all started to unravel. She started to suffer the effects of a virus (it’s unknown whether this is related to the illness which forced her to withdraw from last year’s Tour Championships), and called on the doctor at the end of the second set, which she lost 6-4.
This seemed to affect the Czech in the final set, which she lost 6-3 after being ran all over the court by the energetic and nothing-to-lose Flipkens, who this time last year was ranked world no. 262 and battling a blood clot in her calf.
One of Radwanska, Lisicki, Bartoli or Flipkens will leave the All England Club with a maiden Grand Slam title.
Of these four, Radwanska will be determined to go one better after losing last year’s final to Serena Williams.
But for now, Kvitova will leave Wimbledon without having reached a Grand Slam semi-final in her last five starts.
Questions need to be raised about whether the 23-year-old can win another Grand Slam title and avoid becoming stuck in the dreaded club of “one-slam wonders”, which includes the likes of Li Na, Samantha Stosur, Ana Ivanovic and Francesca Schiavone, as well as past players like Gabriela Sabatini and Jana Novotna.
Out of this list, Kvitova is the only one who can win a second Grand Slam title, to follow her success at Wimbledon two years ago.
Li Na’s bid for a second Grand Slam title, to follow her victory at Roland Garros in 2011, was ended by Radwanska overnight, whilst her two fellow former champions from Paris, Schiavone and Ivanovic, have also seen their recent results at Grand Slam tournaments suffer.
Stosur’s results have also suffered, only reaching two Grand Slam quarterfinals (or better) since her success at the US Open in 2011.
If Kvitova is to win a second Grand Slam title she will have to try to break the stranglehold that is currently possessed by Williams, Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka.
Before these Championships, the three had combined to win the last seven Grand Slam tournaments. Throw in Kvitova’s 2011 Wimbledon title, and that statistic increases to eight out of the last nine.
But as has already been explained, the trio’s demise before the quarterfinals presented Kvitova with the biggest chance to win a second Wimbledon title, but she blew it all in the loss to Kirsten Flipkens.
Assuming the trio remain where they are, and Kvitova remains above world no. 12 in the rankings, she would have to tackle one of those three head-on in the quarterfinals of the US Open, if she were to get that far.
Collectively, Kvitova has a 3-6 record against them at Grand Slam tournaments, which do not make for good reading.
All three of the victories have come at Wimbledon, over Azarenka (twice, in 2010 and 2011) and Sharapova (the aforementioned 2011 final).
The losses came to Williams three times (2010 Australian Open and Wimbledon 2010 and 2012), Sharapova twice (2012 Australian and French Opens) and Azarenka once (2009 Australian Open).
Kvitova has not beaten either of the three since that title in 2011 (0-3), let alone beaten a single Top 15 player. If she is to win a second Grand Slam title, then she will have to overturn those poor records sooner rather than later.
At age 23, there is still time. Kvitova only needs to believe in herself, because it’d be tragic for her to remain in the dreaded club of “one-slam wonders”.