Wimbledon: Lisicki d. Bartoli
Rain pelted the roof above Centre Court with such intensity that, in between blasts of thunder, I thought it might cave in. I was more confident of Sabine Lisicki caving, after the way she lost the second set to Marion Bartoli.
After a fairly routine opening set that Lisicki won 6-4, the German appeared to be delivering an encore, up 5-4 and serving for a spot in the semis. On the first point, as she approached the net to put away a soft Bartoli shot—I would compare the task to playing Tee Ball—Lisicki somehow made a mess of the gimmie, hitting it wide to the crowd's shock. You just knew the gaffe would come back to haunt her, and it did—three match points weren't enough to dismiss Bartoli, who broke serve when Lisicki double-faulted. One of Lisicki's missed match points was particularly cruel; she lost it with a drop shot into net, shortly after hitting one of the better lobs I've seen all year (it was the second lovely loft she'd lifted that game). When the damage was done, Lisicki missed a sitter and wasted three match points, along with some fantastic defense. The momentum was with Bartoli now, and even more so after the Frenchwoman won the second-set tiebreaker, during which Lisicki lost all six points on her serve.
Bartoli pulled off her escape in a rather haggard condition, so I thought little of her panting as the third set began—though in retrospect, maybe her sitting down on a linesperson's chair was telling. All the running and retrieving necessary to hold off Liscki seemed to catch up with Bartoli in the decider; in an instant, the Fraulein was up 3-0. Lisicki erased the second set from memory with this fresh start, and Bartoli needed all her fuel just to hold serve in a lengthy fourth game. She wouldn't win another.
Lisicki's 6-4, 6-7 (4), 6-1 win puts the wild card—and someone's dark horse pick—into the final four of a Slam for the first time in her career. Her quarter of the draw was imposing, but she came back from double match point down to oust French Open champion Li Na, then avoided Serena Williams thanks to Bartoli's upset. Next on Lisicki's wild ride? Maria Sharapova or Dominika Cibulkova.