The 2013 Wimbledon Ladies’ Singles Final is set for a gloriously sunny day at the All England Club on Saturday and has the makings of a potential classic.
It’s not the final that most expected, but it is the perfect one for me, being fortunate enough to be holding big priced outright tickets on both Sabine Lisicki and Marion Bartoli. I have a feeling that we could be in for a dramatic afternoon on Centre Court.
Lisicki will be the darling of the crowd, who have taken to her this fortnight, while Bartoli will assume the role of the villain, having annoyed the spectators by ensuring an early break for some slight drizzle in her match with Sloane Stephens.
This won’t bother Marion too much, at least during the match, as she will be in her own slightly eccentric little world when play begins. She seems to be in a really good place at the moment, with Amelie Mauresmo advising her and her dad Walter taking a back seat - although he will be there on Saturday.
It’s also a great story for Bartoli’s hitting partner Thomas Drouet, who a few weeks ago was recovering from a broken nose allegedly suffered at the hands of Bernard Tomic’s father and is now a key component in Marion’s run to this final.
Although it’s an unlikely run based on this season’s form, Bartoli is still one of the best on grass, where her flat, heavy groundies punish the opponent’s serve and have been too much for her opponents this fortnight; she is yet to drop a set.
That may well change on Sunday, as she faces an in-form Lisicki, who similarly had no form coming into this but is always a danger on grass. She’s shown her pedigree by taking down a string of top players so far this tournament.
They’ve met her twice in the past, winning one match apiece, but this is a unique situation. Key will be how Lisicki responds in her first Grand Slam final. She’s answered all the questions so far, which is unusual for a player renowned for choking, but can she remain calm in a slam decider?
Bartoli has been here before and will probably see this as her best chance to land a major title. You can guarantee that she won’t give up without a fight and the experience of her previous Wimbledon final will be vital.
Once the match starts, the Bartoli return of serve will be key. She’s been lethal on her opponents’ delivery this tournament and took Sloane Stephens’ serve apart – and she serves big, though not quite as big as the German. This will be a clash involving plenty of big hitting and winners aplenty, combined with some awful drop shots, as both have a tendency to hit some shockers when they change it up.
Lisicki is a little too short in this and no value in my book and I like the quick-starting Bartoli to take the first set here against a potentially nervous Lisicki at a price of around 2.40.
But I can't see this being another 2-0 win for the French player and a three-set battle looks highly likely. The previous three-set match in a ladies' final was last year, when Serena Williams defeated Aga Radwanksa, but before that there were five straight 2-0 wins for the eventual champion.
The last player to win in three sets in a final here prior to Williams? Bartoli's mentor for the tournament Mauresmo – and her price was the same as Bartoli's today. An omen perhaps, but the three sets looks a good bet too at around 2.40.
Back Bartoli to win the first set at 2.40
Back three sets at 2.40