Baseline Buzz: Bouchard's to lose


LONDON -- In one corner you have Eugenie Bouchard. The darling of these championships. The adopted princess who's been tagged the heir apparent to Maria Sharapova. Blond, beautiful and bold. Turns out she can play some decent ball, too.

She's become the de facto face of Wimbledon, a marketer's dream.

A social media stalwart whose shameless selfies include photos with Jim Parsons, a ton of fellow tennis players and, naturally, the pope.

And in the other corner is Petra Kvitova. And that's all we have to say about that.

No, that's not entirely fair, but the point is that the Czech, who won this title in 2011, doesn't penetrate the Q-factor on a level close to Bouchard's.

When it comes to generating headlines, Bouchard wins in straight sets. The good news is that Saturday's finale will be about tennis and tennis only. And that's where Kvitova, who's dropped only one set in six matches so far, can compete toe-to-toe with her opponent.

So how will this one go? Tennis editor Matt Wilansky, FiveThirtyEight's Carl Bialik and espnW's Missy Isaacson weigh in on yet another rollicking edition of the Baseline Buzz:

Matt Wilansky: Grand Slam finals, as we've seen time and time again, can be a nerve-fest. And to me, Saturday's finale will be exactly that. It's counterintuitive on so many levels, but Bouchard is still only 20 years old and very green, but she is far and away the more composed, gutsy player of the two. Some might even call her ruthless. Bouchard has made it clear nothing is going to deter her resolve -- not friends, not other players, not anything. Her mission is straightforward: grind until she wears you down. On the flip side, there's Kvitova, who's struggled with nerves for a while, especially since she won the title here three years ago. Recently, she said her mental game is still a work in progress. Which might be the first step toward a healthier attitude.

Carl Bialik: Kvitova's path to the final reminds me a little of Marion Bartoli's last year: The Czech didn't have to play any top-15 seeds, though she was tested by five-time Wimbledon champ Venus Williams. Kvitova advanced fairly easily otherwise, and, as you say, she has been somewhat overlooked despite past Wimbledon success -- as was Bartoli. Bouchard, though, seems highly unlikely to crumble in the final as Sabine Lisicki did last year. Bouchard has been even more dominant on her path to the final, winning every set she's played. I can't wait to see how their aggressive games measure up to each other's. Kvitova's winners (or unforced errors) can come from anywhere on the court, at any time, while Bouchard never misses an opportunity to step inside the baseline to crush a groundstroke or swinging volley.

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