Friday, July 5, 2013

Boom Boom, Bam!

One smiles, the other glares.

One comes from a heritage of giant forehands, the other likes to use both hands at once.

One cries with emotion, the other violently pumps her fist and yells at her box.

It's easy to say that there's a big contrast between Sabine Lisicki and Marion Bartoli because there's a big contrast between anyone and Marion Bartoli. The Frenchwoman is stubborn, maverick, driven, and totally unorthodox. Both players have had more than their share of injuries, and Lisicki has been known to make some rather dramatic exits from the court.

Both are big hitters. Lisicki (when her serve is "on") is one of the best servers on the tour, and many think that Bartoli, who has yet to drop a set at Wimbledon, is the best returner of serve. Both women have had problems with their serves--Lisicki is prone to double-faulting, and Bartoli's serve can go from hot to cold, according to which set it is. Bartoli has been working on her serve lately, however, and Lisicki has served her way to the Wimbledon final.

One of Bartoli's many signatures is how far in she stands to receive serve. Where she'll stand to receive Lisicki's  booming first serve is one thing, but we can count on her moving in to receive the second. When the German player is relaxed, her second serve is quite good, and she's able to vary both service placement and speed on both serves. Bartoli takes the ball very fast, and controls play with her booming returns.

Lisicki reached the semifinals at Wimbledon in 2011; Bartoli reached the final in 2007. There was a lot of rain that week, and Bartoli (who slept through all the rain delays) said she just wasn't ready to go out and play the final after having been on the court the day before. (The fact that she played Venus Williams in the final was somewhat of an impediment, also.)

There should be no shortage of drama when these representatives of France and Germany face off tomorrow to determine who will be the 2013 Wimbledon champion. Whoever wins will be not only a first-time holder of the Wimbledon title, but also a first-time champion at a major. Nerves, as always, will be a factor.

Here are the players' paths to the final:

round 1--def. Francesca Schiavone
round 2--def. Elena Vesnina
round 3--def. Samantha Stosur (14)
round of 16--def. Serena Williams (1)
quarterfinals--def. Kaia Kanepi
semifinals--def. Agnieszka Radwanska (4)

round 1--def. Elina Svitolina
round 2--def. Christina McHale
round 3--def. Camila Giorgi
round of 16--def. Karin Knapp
quarterfinals--def. Sloane Stephens (17)
semifinals--def. Kirsten Flipkens (20)

Let's not forget about the doubles final. 8th seeds Hsieh Su-Wei and Peng Shuai will compete against 12th seeds Ashleigh Barty and Casey Dellacqua. In today's semifinals, Hsieh and Peng beat Shuko Aoyama and Chanelle Scheepers. Barty and Dellacqua defeated 7th seeds Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Kveta Peschke. The Australian pair was the runner-up team in Melbourne.

In mixed doubles, top seeds Lisa Raymond and Bruno Soares will play 8th seeds Kristina Mladenovic (there she is again!) and Daniel Nestor in the final. Today, Mladenovic and Nestor upset 3rd seeds Katarina Srebotnik and Nenad Zimonjic 6-2, 6-7, 11-9. Raymond and partner Mike Bryan won the championship last year.

The junior girls final will feature top seed Belinda Bencic and 5th seed Taylor Townsend. Townsend upset 2nd seed Ana Konjuh in the semifinals. Bencic and her partner, Petra Uberalova, have also advanced to the junior doubles semifinals.

Top seeds Jiske Griffioen and Aniek Van Koot reached the women's wheelchair doubles final today. Their opponents in the final will be Yui Kamiji and Jordanne Whiley. Whiley represents Great Britain.

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