Marion Bartoli makes short work of Kirsten Flipkens in the other semifinal
Sabine Lisicki trumped Agneiszka Radwanska in a rollercoaster of a semifinal that lit up Wimbledon’s Centre Court on Thursday. In the final the German meets Marion Bartoli who beat Kirsten Flipkens rather easily.
In a match that showcased contrasting styles, it was the big-serving Lisicki who drew first blood by breaking Radwanska. In fact, she blew the three breakpoints from 0-40, and it was off a lucky net-cord that she got the break.
After winning the first set 6-4, it seemed as if Lisicki’s no-holds-barred style would neutralise the strategic approach of her fourth-seeded Polish opponent, who makes up for her lack of power by winning points through a strategic succession of moves.
But the match turned around with more errors creeping into Lisicki’s high-risk game. The shot-selection was often poor, and her forehands were frequently overcooked. Attempts to rely on her massive serve to bail herself out were not working either; at one stage, she had lost five successive service games.
With the match levelled after Radwanska won the second set 6-2, it seemed that the thoughtful and lithe Polish player had got the better of her impulsive and free-stroking opponent.
The delightful third set, which progressed as the day got sunnier, was sheer delight, testing both the skill and the nerve of the two players.
Radwanska went up 3-0 with a break, and the match seemed all but over. But Lisciki, who seems to play her best tennis in patches, came roaring back to hold, break, and then hold to love, indicating to the delighted audience and her somewhat surprised opponent that she was back in business.
Lisicki found another break, and served for the match at 5-4, but squandered the advantage to a crafty Radwanska despite saving three break points with some powerful serving. However, the 23rd seed regrouped to break again for 8-7, and served the match out, an easy forehand down the line into open court clinching it.
The match statistics revealed the divergent styles of the two players — one characterised by a disregard for caution, and the other founded around the virtues of consistency.
Lisicki hit 60 winners, almost three times as many as Radwanska’s 21. She also made 46 unforced errors nearly five times as much as Radwanska’s 10.
Eventually, a mere four points separated the two players — 115 for Lisicki, as against Radwanska’s 111.
Skipping, jumping, shuffling and making shadow strokes in the manner of a pugilist warming up for a match, Bartoli made short work of Flipkens in a hugely one-sided semifinal.
In a seeming hurry to reach her second Wimbledon final, the bustling French player quickly went up 3-0, and hardly let up before winning 6-1, 6-2 in a mere hour.
Nothing Flipkens — who seemed hampered by a knee injury — threw at Bartoli seemed to trouble her.
The Belgian’s elegant floating backhand slice, was met by powerful two-handed top-spin groundstrokes on both flanks. Approaches to the net were countered with well-measured lobs, and the occasional drop shot was retrieved and put away with ease.
Ending the first set with an imperious ace in less than 28 minutes, the Bartoli battering continued in the second set, the only blip in an otherwise steady performance occurring when she dropped serve at 3-0.
But Bartoli broke again immediately, allowing Flipkens only one more game.
Bartoli, who said she saw the ball like a football, won a total of 58 points as against Flipkens’s 28, underlining how imbalanced the contest was.
Quite incredibly for a woman who is a bundle of nervous energy, she also said she had taken a half-hour power nap just before she walked on to the Centre Court.
On Wednesday, Andy Murray came back from two sets down to defeat Fernando Verdasco 4-6, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4, 7-5, keeping the dream alive of becoming the first British player to win at Wimbledon after the great Fred Perry.
Women: Semifinals: 23-Sabine Lisicki bt 4-Agnieszka Radwanska 6-4, 2-6, 9-7; 15-Marion Bartoli bt 20-Kirsten Flipkens 6-1, 6-2.
Men: Quarterfinals: 2-Andy Murray bt Fernando Verdasco 4-6, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4, 7-5.
Doubles: Semifinals: 1-Bob Bryan & Mike Bryan bt 14-Rohan Bopanna & Edouard Roger-Vasselin 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-3, 5-7, 6-3; Ivan Dodig & Marcelo Melo bt Radek Stepanek & Leander Paes 3-6, 6-4, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3.
Mixed doubles: Quarterfinals: 3-Nenad Zimonjic & Katarina Srebotnik bt 11- Marcin Matkowski & Kveta Peschke 7-6(10), 6-7(6), 6-4.