Sabine Lisicki put up a fight of champions to reach the ladies singles final of Wimbledon, defeating Serena Williams and Agnieszka Radwanska along the way. Unfortunately when she reached the final, her confidence was replaced by nerves.
But most importantly of all, she came up across a completely relentless Marion Bartoli who would not be denied. Bartoli had been here before in 2007, brushing off Justine Henin in the semis only to fall to Venus Williams in the final.
But 2013 has not been the year which has followed expectations or hopes. And without a doubt, Lisicki was picked as the favourite of the two. She had shown great game and heart in her run to the final. When she broke Bartoli in the opening game of the final, it seemed like this was the right script for this final.
As it turned out, Bartoli had another screenwriter and promptly broke back. From then on, it was Bartoli in charge, sometimes literally. She charged into the net, she charged through her serves and she left Lisicki no room to move.
The first set was over in 30 minutes with the scoreline reading 6-1 in favour of Bartoli. Lisicki had shed a few tears along the way but she could not find the fighting spirit that saw her come back from three games down against both Williams and Radwanska.
The second set started with the first with Lisicki showing the world something of what she was made of. But it did not last long as Bartoli stepping into the court and hitting with aggression and authority.
Before long the score read 4-1 as Lisicki’s wild shots allowed Bartoli full control. It was only now, after some more tears and Bartoli getting championship points on the Lisicki serve that the German picked up her game. She roared action and won her game with an ace to take the score to 5-2.
She then broke Bartoli to take the score to 5-3 and the crowd hoped that the Lisicki they had seen all tournament was back. But it was an assured Bartoli who came out to serve for the championship this time. She took the game to 40-0 and won it with an ace.
Wimbledon has a new Ladies singles champion. Bartoli took 47 visits to the majors to win this one, a record in the women’s game, beating Jana Novotna’s 45 tries. At 28, Bartoli knew this was her big chance and she took it. She graciously said in her post-match on court-interview that Lisicki would have many more chances.
For Lisicki there are many lessons and plenty of hope. She showed the world her strength and ability this Wimbledon. She was clearly overwhelmed by the situation, hardly surprising but she surely has to get over that.
As for The Championships, 2013 has been that kind of year when nothing has gone according to plan. And how wonderful is that for the magic of sport?