This has been a wild Wimbledon for sure with several of the favorites on the men’s and women’s side going out earlier than expected. While Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray are still going strong in the men’s draw, the women’s draw has been decimated to leave four relative lightweights, all in search of their first grand slam title, in the last four. Here’s our preview of Thursday’s women’s semi-finals.
That Sabine Lisicki can play on grass comes as no surprise. What has come as a surprise to many is that the big-hitting bigger-serving German is showing signs of mental toughness in her matches as well. Lisicki is prone to buckling under pressure but this fortnight, she came from 0-3 down to defeat Serena Williams in the last 16 and then lived up to her tag as favorite by beating Kaia Kanepi in straight sets in the quarters. That and the fact that she is currently healthy (hope there’s nothing called writer’s jinx) means she is not going to be pushed over in the semis. The bad news is that her opponent is the Pole Agnieszka Radwanska, at no. 4, the highest seed left in the draw, and a finalist here 12 months ago. Radwanska does not have a powerful game but she does use the power off her opponents better than most others on tour. The Pole also has some deft hands, can run her opponent ragged and when her game is on, she is a delight to watch. This is going to be a classic contrast of styles. Lisicki going for the winner at the earliest possible chance. Radwanska trying to lengthen the rallies, work the angles and draw circles around the German with her racket. Lisicki’s best chance to win this match would be if she could bludgeon Radwanska off the court in straight sets. Because if it goes down to the wire in the third set, Radwanska may prove to be too steady and experienced for the German.
Prediction – Radwanska in three sets
Marion Bartoli is the Willy Wonka of women’s tennis. Quirky, eccentric, a bit too much at first, but likeable once you get to know her. The Frenchwoman dumped her father as coach after more than two decades earlier this year because she wanted to try something new in order to achieve her dream of winning a slam. And she’s getting close. While she quickly went through two coaches and a brief comeback with her dad, Bartoli has been playing without her dad as coach this fortnight. She has been to the finals here once before – in 2007 and that experience will help her against the 20th seeded Kirsten Flipkens, who is scripting her own Brian Bakeresque feel-good story of the tennis season. Ranked no. 262 in the world last year and having been diagnosed with blood clots in both her legs, Flipkens has risen to the top 20 for the first time in her career. The 27 year old Belgian is not your typical big hitter. The technique on her forehand seems not right. She uses plenty of slice on her backhand. She chips, she charges, she drop shots, she lobs. Not your typical modern WTA player, But when you put all of that together along with her new-found appreciation of life and the sport, it all seems to work. Flipkens withstood blow after blow from Kvitova in the quarters until the Czech woman caved under pressure. She will need to do the same against the Frenchwoman. The difference is that Bartoli may not cave as easily and her groundstrokes are just as lethal as and way more consistent than Kvitova. Barring a bad day for the Frenchwoman, she should be through to her second Wimbledon final.
Prediction – Bartoli in three sets