Saturday, July 06, 2013

2013 WIMBLEDON: Bartoli Overwhelms Lisicki To Win 1st Major

Unexpectedly, 28-year-old Marion Bartoli of France defeated an overwhelmed 23-year-old Sabine Lisicki to win the 2013 Wimbledon Women's singles title 6-1 6-4 in 81 minutes. Bartoli became only the third Frenchwoman in history, and the first to do so since Amelie Mauresmo won in 2006. Bartoli was playing in her 47th grand slam tournament, the most number of tournaments anyone has ever taken to win their first major.

Lisicki was widely considered the favorite to win this match, having played 2010 French Open champion Francesca Schiavone, Elena Vesnina, 2011 US Open Champion Samantha Stosur(14), 16-time major champion Serena Williams(1), Kaia Kanepi and 2012 Wimbledon finalist Agnieska Radwanska(4) to reach the final. Lisicki ended Serena's winning streak by coming back from 0-3 down when Serena became surprisingly tentative during the high pressure moments of their 4th round match. Amazingly, Lisicki came back again from a 0-3 deficit in her semifinal match against the wily Radwanska. In the end, the ask for her to play her best tennis in one more match was one ask too many.

Bartoli on the other hand took advantage of one of the wackiest Wimbledons of all time, when four former WTA #1's including the reigning World #3 Maria Sharapova and World #2 Victoria Azarenka went out in the same day the 2007 finalist realized she had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reach another Wimbledon final. She did so without facing a Top 10 opponent, demolishing her semifinal opponent Kirsten Flipkens 6-1 6-2. Her toughest test came against fast-rising American phenom Sloane Stephens whom she outlasted 6-4 7-5 the round before. Bartoli became the first player to win the tournament without dropping a set since Serena did it in 2010.

Women's Final Review
Bartoli confidently began the match by winning the toss and choosing to serve. Although she served two double faults in the first service game, she saved two breakpoints by continuing to go for her serve the entire game, even though she lost it. Lisicki returned the favor by easily losing her serve the next game and Bartoli held easily as Lisicki started to spray balls. The nerves became apparent on Lisicki's side of the net quickly as she failed to hold serve in the first set, hitting only 2 aces (and 2 doublefaults) with only a 54% of first serves in.

She righted the ship in the first set, beginning with an ace, and although her ground strokes were still a bit wobbly, especially the backhand side, she held serve again. But then history repeated itself as Bartoli continued to go for her shots, displaying her improved movement and fitness by getting to lots of drop shots and being able to go for her laser-like bakhand crosscourt.

The key moment in the match was the 2nd game of the 2nd set where Bartoli saved 3 break points with clutch serves and ground strokes deep into the corners of the court. Once Lisicki failed to capitalize on her opportunities and win that long service game of Bartoli's the match was essentially over because the German's level of play returned to her first set's level and she found herself down 1-6 1-5 15-40. However, magically her serve reappeared and with an ace and a couple unreturnables she was able to hold serve (dismissing three Championship points in the process) and in the very next game was able to break Bartoli when she understandable got nervous and started missing serves while trying to closeout the match and win Wimbledon. Lisick finally broke serve and then went on to hold her own service game again. This was a rare string of three games in a row won by Lisicki an it looked like things might be turning around.

At 6-1 5-4, Bartoli was serving for the championship again and this time she won the first two points displaying her improved fitness, winning both on Lisicki errors after long rallies. The third point was a weak return then sailed wide and Bartoli held Triple Championship Point. She hit a serve out wide in the corner to Lisicki's backhand and it was untouched by the German. Game, set and match, Miss Bartoli!

It will be interesting to see how Bartoli takes this win going forward. She is now embraced by the French federation and this could be the beginning of a good patch in her career. At age 28 she has the mental toughness to hang with anyone on tour and she can hit the ball as hard as the the elites at the top of the game. Her mobility can only get better, and if it does, it would not be unreasonable to think she could win another major. If so, she would do something none of the recent brand new major champions (Li Na, Petra Kvitova, Stosur, or Schiavone) have been able to do.

We shall see!


D Thomas said...

I think Bartoli overpowered an emotionally overwhelmed opponent. Lisicki looked like a deer in the headlights for most of the match. I actually enjoyed watching a Wimby ladies final, for the first time since 2008.

Ron Buckmire said...

You didn't like enjoy watching any of Serena's wins in 2009, 2010 or 2012??

I think Lisicki was just mentally exhausted from the three 3-set matches (Stosur, Serena, Radwanska) she played, which combined with the tension of playing in a major final, was just too much for her to handle.

At 23, I think she has a very good chance of getting another chance at winning Wimbledon.

I am happy for Bartoli, she has always struck me as good enough to win a major, especially since she got fitter.

The best player who is next to win a major who hasn't yet done so is Radwanska.


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