Free-swinging Petra Kvitova manages to keep things short for once

Former champion shows flashes of her old form ahead of meeting with Williams

On the big screen on Henman Hill – Murray got the trophy, Henman keeps the hill – they showed old footage of Petra Kvitova beating Maria Sharapova in the 2011 final. The Czech player, known for her aggressive baseline play and booming forehand, was a smiling, open eyed new champion and the win heralded as a poignant moment, the shift from familiar faces to new. Other players were in the background, Caroline Wozniacki, Agnieszka Radwanska, Ana Ivanovic, Victoria Azarenka.

But Kvitova didn't dominate the way she's hoped and in the two succeeding years exited at the quarter-final stages at Wimbledon and didn't win another Major. Sharapova hung around to win twice at Roland Garros and Serena Williams continued to push the boundaries, winning four more Grand Slams in the intervening years.

Timely move

Yesterday’s 6-2, 6-0 win over Germany’s

Mona Barthel

has Kvitova again swinging freely and importantly clipped the game in two sets after a year of taking three in almost every match.

Her penchant for prolonging events eventually earned her the nickname P3tra. But winning in two sets is a timely move as she meets Venus Williams in the next round, a chance for the 24-year-old to again strike a blow for her generation against a player on the way back from injury and illness and 10 years older.

“She’s a big champion here. She likes to play on the grass and I’m totally the same,” said Kvitova. “They key is to play every point and stay confident. She plays flat shots (same) as me on the grass and of course she has the big serve.”

There are others, with Na Li also coming through against Austria's Yvonne Meusburger. Li played aggressively and the errors mounted. Chilled and serenely pleased with the win, she advised that to attack a player you may need to accept some heartache.

The newest name to emerge as Kvitova did three years ago, was the big serving Bojana Jovanovski who took out the eighth seed Azarenka in just over two hours. The Serbian, ranked 45 in the world, won the first set 6-3, dropped the second 3-6 and fought for almost an hour to wrestle the third 7-5 for her win.

Tough meeting

It was a tough meeting for Azarenka, who returned to tennis at Eastbourne for just her second event since the Australian Open at the start of the year.

Wimbledon was her fifth event of 2014 (she played before the Australian Open) but managed to maintain her top 10 ranking.

“There are a lot of things that still have to be tuned, still have to be practiced,” said a stoic Azarenka.

“I’m not taking this match as a downer, I’m taking it as a motivation to be better.”

The 22-year-old from Belgrade, Jovanovski, had just snapped out of a six match losing streak with her opening round win.

She’s the third ranked Serbian player and can now be considered dangerous, although her step forward on this platform is tempered by Azarenka’s relatively poor fitness.

Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson is a sports writer with The Irish Times