Kanepi keen to focus on positives after run ends
Every tennis player will tell you professional matches are won and lost by the smallest of margins. Just ask Kaia Kanepi. Five times the Estonian qualifier was a point away from booking a career-defining semi-final date with defending champion Serena Williams only to suffer the pain of a defeat that seemed impossible for most of her quarter-final contest with Czech Petra Kvitova.
She held three match points in the second set tie-break (and surrendered one with a nervy double fault), led 4-0 with a double break and 5-2 late in the decider and had another couple of match points at 6-5. Moments later the world No.80's tournament was over. Just like that. She was out 4-6, 7-6 (10-8), 8-6.
After the defeat comes the interrogation. A group of journalists gathered in the All England Club's main interview room eager to dissect her mental state before she even had the chance to process the match with her coach, fellow Estonian Silver Karjus.
"I don't know what to say," a stunned Kanepi offered when asked whether Kvitova had dealt with the occasion better. "I think I could have handled it better to win, [given] the opportunities I had, so I think it's also a mental [issue].
"During the match points I just tried to play the point, but nothing special. I didn't have thoughts [of playing in the semi-finals]. I just tried to play each point, each game."
Was it a case of her opponent winning those points, or Kanepi losing them, a writer enquired. She thought about it and responded: "Fifty-fifty. I had a few second serves. She hit them well on the line. Then I had my serve, double fault. I had my few serve opportunities. So it was 50-50."
After missing three match points in the tie-break, Kanepi did well to regroup and take control of the third. But after building up a four-game cushion, she could not finish the left-hander off. "She played a little bit better at this stage," Kanepi said. "I think when she broke she got some more confidence and she just kept in there. Kept fighting. I made a few errors. That's the way it goes."
It must be mighty hard to find any positives to take from Tuesday's events, but Kanepi hopes that soon she will be able to enjoy reflecting on her run to the last eight, which included seven straight-sets victories after initially lining up in the first round of the qualifying tournament down the road in Roehampton.
"Overall, it's very positive for me to have so many matches on grass, good matches. Obviously right now I feel disappointed, but I think it's going away in a few hours."