Marion Bartoli is counting on six additional years of tennis experience to see her through her second Wimbledon final as she faces German Sabine Lisicki on Saturday.
The Frenchwoman lost the title match in 2007 against Venus Williams. This year, the 28-year-old could reach seventh in the WTA rankings if she wins. Bartoli has found a new coach in former title-winner Amelie Mauresmo, and is relying on her new team after years of coaching from her doctor-father Walter.
The Frenchwoman is keen to get stuck into the final with Lisicki, who played the 2011 semi-final here and is slowly becoming the crowd’s favourite.
“The last time I was so young, in a way,” said Bartoli. “I was the underdog coming out on the court. This time it is totally the opposite. I’m the higher-ranked player and I need to put in a great performance.
“I think I’ve been able to deal with the pressure really well and keep improving throughout the Championships. I do just everything a bit better than six years ago. If I could play myself from six years ago, I’d probably be beating myself quite easily.”
Lisicki, ranked 24th, holds a 3-1 lead over Bartoli. The German beat Bartoli in their 2011 Wimbledon quarter-final clash, and lost out to her in their first round match at the All England club in 2008.
Lisicki has been playing with a permanent smile of contentment on her face since conquering Serena Williams in the fourth round. She went on to dispatch Agnieszka Radwanska — fourth seed and 2012 finalist — in a semi-final thriller which stretched over two hours in duration.
“That would be a dream coming true,” the Florida-based 23-year-old said of winning the trophy. “I’ve been dreaming about it since I was a little girl. This is the best place to play my first grand slam final. I couldn’t imagine any better place.”
Lisicki’s spring ankle injury in 2010 took five months — instead of six weeks — to heal, due to clumsy diagnosis by American doctors. She did admit that reading biographies of other sportsmen who fought back from injury adversity helped her along the way during her recovery.
“I love the sport so much,” said Lisikci. “I miss it so much when I cannot be out there on the court. The love of the game just gives me the belief to overcome anything that comes.”
She is under no illusions as to the magnitude of her job on Centre Court. “Marion is playing aggressive tennis. I’ve played Serena, who plays aggressively, too. It’s another challenge, and I’m looking forward to it.”