The 2013 Wimbledon Championships will wrap up with a truly bizarre final, pitting 15th-seeded Marion Bartoli against No. 23 Sabine Lisicki on Saturday at the All England Club.
Bartoli isn't as much of a surprise considering her experience and appearance in the 2007 final, but Lisicki had to weather a difficult draw and beat top-ranked Serena Williams in the round of 16 to get to this point.
An improvement in fitness and solid groundstrokes have keyed Bartoli's run to the cusp of winning the year's third Grand Slam title, and she has yet to drop a set in London.
However, the amount of upsets this tournament has fostered has resulted in Bartoli not encountering anyone seeded higher than her the entire time. That won't change against Lisicki, but the German will prove to be Bartoli's most formidable opponent to date.
Sloane Stephens has comparable physical skills to Lisicki, but not the consistency nor the fortitude to get it done as deep in a Grand Slam event.
In the first Slam of the year at the Australian Open, it was Stephens who stunned Williams in the quarterfinals. This time around, Lisicki emerged with the prestigious victory at an even earlier juncture in the round of 16.
No one is as gifted as Williams, but Lisicki's relentless aggression served her well as she hit 35 winners compared to the 25 Williams smacked.
The fact that Lisicki has had to grind out three-set duels against the likes of Williams, 14th-seeded Samantha Stosur in the match before and No. 4 seed Agnieszka Radwanska in the quarterfinals showcases her brilliant resilience.
Meanwhile, her finals counterpart has not faced that much adversity. All of those players are seeded ahead of Bartoli, and Lisicki slugged her way to win each match.
One of the fastest-rising players in women's tennis was Bartoli's semifinal foe, Kirsten Flipkens. Unfortunately, she was hobbled by a knee injury—adding to the narrative of medical problems for many players at Wimbledon this season.
Flipkens was simply no match for Bartoli, who to her credit played arguably the best match she had all tournament long in a 6-1, 6-2 romp.
Even though Bartoli has the edge in experience and is definitely most successful on grass, she will find it difficult to get around to her shots against a player with Lisicki's prowess on serve and groundstrokes.
As a result of a more arduous path to the ultimate clash on Centre Court and an attacking style of play, look for Lisicki's steely grit and superior power to drive her to victory.
Prediction: Lisicki wins—6-4, 3-6, 6-2
Note: Statistics and match history are courtesy of Wimbledon.com, unless otherwise indicated.
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