But instead it turned into a right Royal rout. Eugenie Bouchard, watched by Princess Eugenie - after whom the Canadian was named - was pulverised by the surgical striking of an inspired Petra Kvitova, as the Czech took just 55 minutes on court to rack up her second Wimbledon title.
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The 6-3, 6-0 win was the fourth-fastest final in the Open era, and the quickest since 1983. The winner that year - as well as on eight other occasions - was a certain Martina Navratilova, who greeted her countrywoman with a warm embrace as she returned to the locker room.
While there were tears all round in the Kvitova camp, the actual drama was kept to a minimum. Even the end was functional, businesslike. One last swash of that brutal Kvitova two-handed backhand on championship point propelled the ball across court at a perfect angle, and before we knew it the 24-year-old was passing through the newly-installed gate up to the players' box and hugging her friends and family. The old custom of clambering over spectators has been scrapped due to safety concerns.
"It was really funny," was Kvitova's take on her unique part of Wimbledon history, having become the first player to use the new facility. "But it was nice to be there, definitely, to have hugs with them. When I saw, for example, my coach [David Kotyza], and he was crying, I was like, 'oh, my God, woman, you're making me cry'."
That was the only moisture permitted on Centre Court yesterday. The stadium roof, kept open for the admittedly brief duration of the match amid gloomy mid-afternoon London skies, was finally closed for the trophy presentation, a process which at least prolonged matters for another 15 minutes or so. "In the end, I was quite lucky, because otherwise [if the match had gone on longer] we would have had to [stop to] close the roof," said Kvitova.
In truth, though, luck had nothing to do with it. Kvitova was hailed as the natural heir to Navratilova after her victory here against Maria Sharapova in 2011, and so imperious was her performance yesterday that it was her burden to carry such comparisons again. The Czech, who moved superbly all day despite the heavy strapping she has worn on her right thigh since an injury which caused her to pull out of the previous tournament at Eastbourne, deftly sidestepped suggestions that she can surpass the achievements of one of the greatest players in the history of the sport.
"It's definitely not my goal to overtake her," said Kvitova. "I mean, it is something I don't think I really can achieve. But definitely she's a great champion. She has nine titles here. You know, it's nice to see her in the locker room and she's smiling and she's happy for me. She's really huge in the Czech Republic. Everywhere, actually. I'm just glad I have this huge fan."
The player herself gleaned more personal satisfaction out of this win than that of 2011, and not just because it served as a birthday present for her father Jiri. She gave up just one break point all match long - surrendering it to offer her Canadian opponent some brief hope - but by the end her precision hitting from the back of the court met little resistance. With inspiration derived from her coach Kotyza writing the Czech word 'Bojd' in string on the back garden of the house where she is staying for the duration of the tournament - it translates as 'Come on' - Kvitova exerted such pressure that Bouchard only held serve twice in the whole match.
"Definitely this means more than 2011 because I played a great tournament," said Kvitova. "I know this is the best tournament for me. For the past five years I've had good results here. I enjoy being here."
The only downside of the prolonged ceremony was that Bouchard, the 20-year-old from Montreal, had to endure the ordeal of hanging around in the engravers' room. "Maybe it was a bit cruel," she said. "I was in there when I won the juniors so I had flashbacks to that time. But it was a little odd. I sat down. I put my jacket on and just reflected. I was watching them work, wishing one day, dreaming that he'll write my name somewhere."
Bouchard went off into the night saying that her junior title still outranked the achievement of reaching the final, and promising herself a rare chocolate brownie as comfort food.
A bright spot in her day was being watched by her namesake. "That was crazy - I did see her in the box," said the 20-year-old, who was also watched by a sell-out crowd at the Uniprix Stadium in her native Montreal. "I'm very happy that she came out but disappointed I couldn't put on a better show for her. I didn't have many answers on the court today. That's the bottom line."
This was Kvitova's day all right. She put it down to a kind of alchemy.
"It was definitely one of the best matches I have ever played," the Czech said. "Maybe it was magic. I was in the zone. I will try to be more in the zone from now on."