Marion Bartoli barely paused for breath as she dispatched Kirsten Flipkens 6-1, 6-2 to enter the Wimbledon final yesterday.
She took 62 minutes to finish the match and that’s only because Flipkens managed to win two games in the second set. Bartoli’s determination was evident from the moment she stepped onto the court, but even she would have been surprised at the lack of challenge that came her way.
It was also evident that Flipkens, who managed to oust former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, did not possess a game to defeat Bartoli. The French woman had entered the final in 2007, upsetting Justine Henin, but had succumbed to Venus Williams in the summit clash. The fact that the Williams sisters were not there to contend with this time probably buoyed Bartoli.
Meanwhile, the second semi-final between Sabine Lisicki and Agnieszka Radwanksa had everything that the first didn’t. Radwanksa had to avenge her loss to Serena Williams in the final the year before. That was a tough three-setter and so was this semi-final in 2013. It took over two hours and 9 games to 7 for Lisicki to break through to her first final and Radwanska to offer a most perfunctory handshake at the net.
The crowd favourite was undoubtedly Lisicki who has blazed her way through this championship. On the Aorangi terrace aka Henman Hill not yet re-christened Murray Mound, the picnickers roared with each point Lisicki won and groaned as her count of unforced errors increased.
Radwanska however is a beautiful player and a tricky customer. She has some very deceptive shots and plays a more complete game of tennis than many of the power-hitters in the women’s game. She has guile which she uses to her advantage and to compensate for the others’ size.
Lisicki was victim of the Radwanska effect through the second set and when she was down three games to none in the third.
Shades of the Serena Williams match must have run through her head because point by point, she turned it around. She broke Radwanksa and then held on, even as the net cord favoured the world number four and her own unforced errors count climbed up. She served for the match once and was broken. But when she had broken Radwanska for 8 games to 7, she made none of her earlier mistakes.
Lisicki served well to reach 30-0, got to 40-0 only to face some Radwanska magic but made no mistake at 40-15. She called it a ‘battle that she fought with all my heart’.
Wimbledon she says is her favourite tournament (they all say that) but the text message she got from Steffi Graf the last German to win here wishing her luck must have helped. And in all this talk of unforced errors, it is worth noting that Lisicki hit 60 winners. Radwanska had 21.
Lisicki has a small advantage in the Bartoli match-up with a 3 wins to 1 loss head-to-head. But the only time that Lisicki has lost to Bartoli was here at Wimbledon, in the first round in 2008. Bartoli will certainly get some confidence from that. But it should not be too much. This is another Lisicki and another Wimbledon.