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Women_Ñés Final: The Preview

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Originally published on: 06/07/13 00:00

Marion Bartoli and Sabine Lisicki will be bidding to become the 42nd different woman to win a Grand Slam title in the Open Era when they take to Centre Court at 2pm today. The last time either player etched their name on a trophy of any sorts was 2011 when Lisicki won on the hard courts of Dallas and Bartoli triumphed in Osaka and their outing today represents the 15th major final contested between players who have never won a Grand Slam.

HEAD-TO-HEAD: LISICKI 3 – BARTOLI 1

Bartoli and Lisicki have met four times before with the German coming out on top on three of those occasions. They have met twice at Wimbledon with Bartoli prevailing in 2008 while Lisicki won in three sets in 2011.

No.23 SABINE LISICKI

The 5ft10 German has consistently demonstrated her easy power throughout the tournament but what has surprised many observers is the world No.24’s speed around the court. Her contest with Radwanska was the match of the tournament – until Novak Djokovic and Juan Martin del Potro’s five-set epic yesterday – and over the course of their three-set encounter Lisicki showed that there’s more to her game than brute force as she called upon an array of skills to find a way past the at times impregnable Pole.

The 23-year-old likes to stretch her opponents with a combination of wicked angles that open up the court and allow her to step inside the baseline when the ball pops up. Her 44 visits to the net against Radwanska, 33 of which resulted in her winning the point, proved that unlike other big hitters on tour she’s not afraid to back up her weapons by moving forward and limiting her opponent’s time on the ball. 

Then there’s the serve, her greatest weapon. Lisicki landed 80% of her first serves against Radwanska, an impressive statistic for someone who doesn’t hold back when starting the point, and she tops the ace count with 39. Bartoli has returned very well this tournament, breaking 11 times in her last two matches, but Lisicki’s serve, which has clocked at 122mph this week, will be tougher to tame.

The German has come through a tough draw, beating three Grand Slam champions, including an in-form Serena Williams, on her way to the final but her weakness lies in her consistency. At times she can look unstoppable but she’s prone to hitting rough patches without warning. She lost nine straight games against Williams and repeated a similar disappearing act against Radwanska in the semi-final before digging herself out on both occasions and she will need to be wary of dry spells against a confident and in-form Bartoli.

No.15 MARION BARTOLI

The Frenchwoman has been in impressive form since the opening round and she is the only player in either draw who is yet to drop a set. With a new team around her, which includes former Wimbledon champion Amelie Mauresmo and hitting partner Thomas Drouet, who was allegedly head butted by Bernard Tomic’s father in Madrid, Bartoli looks at peace with herself off the court for the first time in a long time and it’s evident in her play. Speaking in her pre-final press conference, Bartoli said everything is “perfect again” after being affected by a private issue at the beginning of the year, which she refused to elaborate on.

The world No.15, who is bidding to become the first player with both a double-handed forehand and backhand to win Wimbledon in the Open Era, is a different player to the one who reached the final here in 2007. Experience is obviously one of the biggest differences, but Bartoli has also improved her serve considerably and she will need it clicking today if she is to impact Lisicki. Her first serve percentage has hovered around the 60 per cent mark for much of the tournament and she will need to be careful of not letting it drop below that in today’s game.

It will be interesting to see how the battle for court positioning plays out. The No.15 seed isn’t the greatest mover in the top 20 and the fact that she is double handed on both sides limits her reach so there’s a chance she will be unable to cope with the heavy topspin angles coming from Lisicki’s racket. Bartoli, however, positions herself as close as possible to the baseline during the rallies and she will be hoping to cut off angles before they stretch her too far off the court. She’s also proved that she can absorb power well on the grass by getting low and taking the ball early.

OUR PREDICTION:

We tagged Lisicki as our dark horse in the Wimbledon issue of the magazine so we will stick with her again. Bartoli has looked impressive but it’s worth pointing out that if she was to win she would be the first player to do so in the Open Era without beating a top ten seed along the way and her only top 20 wins this season have come here against Sloane Stephens and Kirsten Flipkens. The Frenchwoman may benefit from her previous final experience and a less mentally and physically draining semi-final but Lisicki has had her game face on all week. Her record at Wimbledon stands at 19-4, in comparison to 16-15 at the other three Slams, and if her previous rounds are anything to go by she will have the backing of a supportive Centre Court crowd, who she has endeared herself too in recent years. If Lisicki, who has been nicknamed Doris Becker in the British tabloids, is to triumph she will become the first German to win in SW19 since Steffi Graf in 1999. 

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