Bartoli wins maiden Slam against tearful Lisicki
Marion Bartoli crushed a tearful Sabine Lisicki 6-1 6-4 to win the Wimbledon title, her first Grand Slam.
In a battle of the underdogs Bartoli, ranked 15th, kept her composure as world number 24 Lisicki fell to pieces on Centre Court, the occasion clearly too much for the German, who wept during the second set.
It was an unusual finish to a bizarre women’s tournament at Wimbledon, with the likes of defending champion Serena Williams and third seed Maria Sharapova dumped out, while Victoria Azarenka was among a rash of players injured by the slippery grass in the early stages.
The fall of the giants saw Bartoli, 29, and Lisicki, 23, come through to contest a final with both women searching for their maiden Major titles. It was a scrappy affair, low on quality and ultimately determined by Bartoli’s ability to keep relatively calm as Lisicki imploded from her first service ball.
Indeed, Bartoli’s signature double-handed backhands and forehands were close to their best, while Lisicki’s power, accuracy and trusted serve all deserted her on a sunny afternoon in South West London.
"I never imagined in my wildest dreams that I would win Wimbledon, but even so maybe with a backhand winner - not an ace!" Bartoli, a beaten finalist in 2007, joked on court.
"I have been practising my serves for so long," she added before tearfully thanking her father, who was previously her long-standing coach but now a mere spectator in the stands.
Lisicki acknowledged that she had failed to manage the pressure of her first Grand Slam final.
"I think I was just overwhelmed by this whole situation, but credit to Marion she has been in this situation before and handled it so well," Lisicki said afterwards.
"She has been around for so long and deserves it, and I hope I will get the chance again," she added, having regained her composure before bursting into tears again.
A strange first set saw both women show nerves from the outset as the first two games saw breaks of serve.
The unorthodox Bartoli’s deliveries are not one of her strengths, but back-to-back double faults gave the German an early advantage; Lisicki traditionally is an excellent server, so it was odd that she would follow by double-faulting to a break of her own.
While the more experienced Bartoli steadied her ship, Lisicki continued to struggle, making repeated errors from all over the court as she flopped with her groundstrokes, volleys, returns and even serves.
The set was over in a flash, Lisicki running off court for an early toilet break after losing it 6-1 in half an hour.
Perhaps she was able to regain her composure in the loos, because the 23-year-old was much better at the start of the second stanza, holding with ease before giving Bartoli a stern test on serve.
But, in a 10-minute game, the Frenchwoman managed to save six break points to hold, seemingly knocking the stuffing out of Lisicki, who was broken immediately afterwards.
It would be unfair to solely apportion it to Lisicki’s now fragile mental state – the opening point in that game was a fabulous rally won by a glorious Bartoli pass off the line – but the Frenchwoman was clearly more adept at handling the pressure than her younger adversary.
Bartoli is also notoriously laid-back which, coupled with her reportedly genius-level intelligence, more than compensates for a lack of physical prowess and technical accomplishment.
Facing down another break point in the second, the German had to wipe away tears as she threatened to fully implode. She saved that one, but fell to another with one of what were frequent shanks off the side of her racquet, followed by an unforced error off the forehand.
It was embarrassing to watch but, after facing down and saving three match points at 5-1, Lisicki suddenly clicked into gear, holding and following with a superb break of serve.
But Bartoli still had another chance to serve for the championship, doing so with aplomb as Lisicki failed to get a point, the final touch a flashing ace.
It is likely to be the crowning glory of Bartoli’s career – she had hitherto only won seven WTA Tour titles – but for Lisicki there is time and hope for another Slam chance.