July 7, 2013

Wimbledon: Bartoli's the last standing

In a Wimbledon women's tournament of injuries and upsets, Marion Bartoli wins her first Grand Slam title.

The Associated Press

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Marion Bartoli of France was in a place she dreamed she’d be someday, among the crowd, exuberant as the Wimbledon women’s champion. She never lost a set in the two-week event, and dispatched Sabine Lisicki of Germany in an error-strewn final, 6-1, 6-4.

The Associated Press

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RECENT WIMBLEDON WOMEN’S CHAMPIONS

2013: Marion Bartoli

2012: Serena Williams

2011: Petra Kvitova

2010: Serena Williams

2009: Serena Williams

2008: Venus Williams

2007: Venus Williams

From there Bartoli took over, winning 11 of 12 games and doing exactly what her father, a doctor who taught his daughter to play, used to hope and imagine could happen in such an important match. Standing inside the baseline -- another sign of individuality -- Bartoli got back serves that topped 110 mph. She won the point on 9 of 11 trips to the net. She dictated the flow of baseline exchanges, thinking one or two moves ahead, the way one tries to do in chess, her father's favorite pastime.

"I was doing everything well," Bartoli said. "I was moving well, was returning well. I mean, I really played a wonderful match."

It was not exactly the greatest theater or a "How To" guide for young players. Bartoli and Lisicki combined for more unforced errors, 39, than winners, 36. They finished with 11 double-faults and eight aces. When Lisicki double-faulted twice in one game while getting broken to trail 4-1 in the second set, she covered her face with her racket as her eyes welled.

"I was a bit sad I didn't perform the way I can," Lisicki said.

Lisicki was near defeat when she finally did look like someone who entered the day with a 19-4 career record at Wimbledon. Facing match points while serving at 15-40 with a scoreline of 6-1, 5-1 in Bartoli's favor, Lisicki suddenly remembered how to play again.

She hit a swinging backhand volley winner to erase one match point, then a 106 mph service winner to take care of the next. Another followed shortly, and this time Bartoli put a backhand into the net. Lisicki smacked a 115 mph service winner and a 114 mph ace to hold serve for the second time in seven tries.

Bartoli, who said she napped a bit and danced to music in the locker room beforehand to stay loose, now was the one who was tight. With the crowd roaring after nearly every point, wanting more match, Lisicki broke to 5-3, then held to 5-4.

Lisicki put together third-set comebacks against Williams and Radwanska, but could she really dig herself out of this hefty deficit?

No. Bartoli served out the match at love, using that one-of-a-kind serve to close with a 101 mph ace that hit a line and sent chalk dust spraying.

"You can't describe that kind of feeling. You cannot put (into) any words what I feel in this moment," said Bartoli. "I can't believe I won Wimbledon this year. We'll have to see the pictures, to see the match again on DVD, to realize it."

 

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