Kvitova books final spot
Petra Kvitova has vowed to master the crippling pressure that dogged her Wimbledon title defence when she steps into her first grand slam final since 2011.
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The 24-year-old saw off close friend and Czech compatriot Lucie Safarova in straight sets on Friday, to set up her second grand slam and Wimbledon final.
The world number six will face Canada's Eugenie Bouchard, admitting the burden of expectation proved all-consuming after she claimed the All England Club title.
Andy Murray turned to Amelie Mauresmo to cope with defending his Wimbledon crown - Kvitova leaned on sports psychologist Michal Safar, but conceded it took two years to come to terms with champion status.
"When I won here in 2011 I needed to change myself both on and off the court a little bit," Kvitova said, after easing past Safarova 7-6 (8/6) 6-1.
"I had to get used to the pressure, I won here quite young, and it was difficult for me to handle it, definitely.
"I'm glad that happened though: I would never change it for something else.
"These years in between have been really up and down, and I knew people were expecting more from me than I delivered."
Kvitova fell at the quarter-final hurdle as defending champion in 2012, swatted aside in straight sets by Serena Williams.
Dumped out at the same stage by Kirsten Flipkens a year later, Kvitova was still wrestling against her solitary slam success.
Kvitova said a gradual process of visualisation and improved preparation have helped her overcome those mental blocks, especially in a tough third-round clash with Venus Williams this year.
"It's tough to stay with the pressure every time you step on court, being the favourite isn't easy," she said.
"It takes some getting used to, definitely.
"That's something that I'm living with now, I don't think it will change - it's part of my life now, and that's it.
"Everything in my life changed after Wimbledon.
"I'm still working on the mental side, that's something I really need.
"When I'm still living with the pressure, that's what I really need to handle.
"With my sports psychologist, it's nice to talk with someone who probably knows how I'm feeling before my match.
"He'll be trying to talk to me about the next match, what I should do, what I have to prepare for.
"During the tournament it's really about keeping the focus, sometimes about visualisation, and certainly the little things."
Kvitova almost did not make it to Wimbledon's starting line this year, after damaging her hamstring and pulling out of action at Eastbourne.
Her withdrawal handed Britain's Heather Watson a walkover into the semi-finals - but left herself with four days to find fitness.
Kvitova admitted to mild panic after playing through the problem twice, and unwittingly exacerbating what she initially thought was little more than a niggle.
"I played Lucie (Safarova) at Eastbourne as well, and it was a big, three-set fight," she said.
"It was a very long match, and the next day I started to feel the leg.
"I played again, and won, but then the next day I woke up and I really couldn't walk even without pain.
"I've never withdrawn before, but I knew it was so close to Wimbledon.
"I knew if I had chance of recovering I would need some time off.
"I hit for the first time on the Saturday, then had my first round on the Monday, and it was okay - so now I'm very pleased with my decision over there."