Anyone pick this as a quarter-final? Holy mackerel, I didn't see this coming but it has the makings of one hell of a match with two players who are at the absolute top of their games.
The first thing these guys will have to do is forget about yesterday. They both had excellent wins, particularly Marion Bartoli – to go head to head with Serena Williams like that and come out on top. Wow! That's some going. But she must not revel in it – there's no time to look back in the second week of a Slam.
I can see Bartoli doing that OK. She's the one with all the experience, especially here where she reached the final back in 2007. This is her ninth Championships, whereas Sabine Lisicki is only on her third visit (mind you she did reach the quarters on her last visit two years ago so this is not all new to her). Bartoli turned professional back in 2000, which gives her six years more experience than her German opponent. On an occasion like today, last eight of a Slam, that counts, and the way in which she has battled through proves what a fighter Bartoli is as well, not only against Serena but also when she lost the first set against Lourdes Dominguez Lino on Friday. She lost the first set in round three as well – this girl has guts.
That's what I like most about the Frenchwomen, her energy and competitive spirit. She is always busy, always on the move. She gets up there and gets at her opponent – did you see how she came off the baseline, got into the court and got involved against Serena? What have I been saying all tournament... Bartoli said afterwards that she's a completely different character on the court to off it and you can really see that, it's impressive to be able to split yourself like that.
So what about her game? She's fierce man. I love that aggression and it makes up for areas of her game that are sometimes not the equal of the girl on the other side of the net. She hits the ball very early, that's a good weapon and hard to deal with – it hustles an opponent. Her serve is good and she returns well; her stats are solid – add in her energy and experience, and the run she is on, and it will be tough for Lisicki.
Sabine is an intense young woman. She has been out at my academy for a while and, man, is she committed. It's practice, practice, practice. There have been times when we have tried to get her to ease off, but she only knows one way of doing things. And today she will play her way – bing, bang, boom. She hits the ball big, but one thing that is coming into her game is more tactical acumen. When she beat Li Na she used her battering forehand to force the French Open winner deeper and deeper and then won the point with a drop shot. That's a sure sign she is back on track after the injury and illness that ruined 2010 for her.
Winning in Birmingham gave her plenty of confidence – although not as much as beating Na! She will be looking to get at Bartoli with her big serve, knock the beans out of the ball and keep the rallies short. The longer they go on the more that will suit Bartoli, who is a steady hitter with a two-handed forehand and backhand. If Lisicki is firing she can give anyone a game – wild card or not – but I'm still a little surprised she has got to this stage so soon on her return to the upper echelons of the sport. She will have to do it over again though if she's to knock Bartoli off her perch.Reuse content