Nick Bollettieri: Lisicki must bring her A-game to give gutsy Bartoli a proper test
The Wimbledon files
Tuesday 28 June 2011
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 here (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 a bundle of energy out there on the court, 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, real fierce. 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, 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.
Today's big match
Marion Bartoli v Sabine Lisicki
HOW THEY MATCH UP
France Nationality Germany
26 Age 21
Geneva Residence Bradenton
Right-handed Plays Right-handed
5ft 7in Height 5ft 10in
9 World ranking 62
6 Career titles 2
$5.9m Career prize-money $1.1m
W20 L8 Wimbledon record W8 L2
Final Wimbledon best Q-final (2)
W1 L2 Head-to-head W2 L1
11-10 Odds 8-11
Bollettieri's prediction: Bartoli in three
Coaching Report: Poker-faced prodigy and Bulgarian with an open draw
At some point this week I'm going to pick out my quartet of young guys to watch on the evidence of what I've seen in this Championships, but I don't think I'm giving any great secret away by revealing that one of them is Bernard Tomic.
The youngest quarter-finalist since Boris Becker way back in 1986 – unbelievable! He's 18 and he's now in the quarter-finals of Wimbledon. This boy has got it, man has he got it. I reckon he's got it as a poker player too – the guy's face never gives away a thing. He stands there, like a statue and then bang, bang, bang and his opponent is on the floor.
Tomic has a good all-round game. All the parts are there to enable him to reach the top. He's played plenty of matches to get here – three qualifiers, then being two sets down to Igor Andreev in round two. Yesterday he was good. He shattered Xavier Malisse – a guy who has been playing well and has so much more experience than the young Aussie – in the first set and never looked back.
Check out the stats for Tomic – his first serve was 73 per cent (he averages in the 70s for the tournament) and he won 91 per cent of his second-service points. They don't tell a word of a lie.
It was some day yesterday – Magic Monday. But hey, I did not expect Andy Murray to have it quite as simple as that. Take a bow, boy. I'm liking what I'm seeing from Murray, but then I'm liking what I see in the men's tournament, full stop. It's all coming together into a slam dunk of a week.
It was some day for the women too. Serena – gone. Venus – gone. Who would have thought that? Serena's game against Marion Bartoli gripped from the first point to the last. Serena flickered at times, and there were moments when I thought she was going to come right back, but Bartoli just did not stop running.
It's looking better and better for Maria Sharapova, especially with Caroline Wozniacki gone from her part of the draw (as well the little matter of Serena). Venus's conqueror, Tsvetana Pironkova, is a big hitter and troubles any player on her day but Venus was out of sorts. The Bulgarian will be full of confidence in the bottom half of a draw that is now wide open.
Mr B's A-Zee
O is for order of play. The first thing you gotta do when you get through the gates is grab one and plan your day. Yesterday, Magic Monday, was the best one and so many choices – all the top players in the men's and women's game playing across a handful of courts. The day of days.
P is for a double P – peak performance. Only that is good enough to win here and it requires time to rest and recuperate – that's why the middle Sunday is so important to the guys here.
Win a week at my academy
Want a week's tennis holiday at my IMG Nick Bollettieri Academy in Florida? Included in the prize is five days' top-class tuition. The prize can be for an adult wanting to shape up his or her game, or for a child who wants to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Andre Agassi, Monica Seles and Maria Sharapova, among other players who went from being kids under my tuition to No 1 in the world.
What you have to do is answer this question: what will the line-up for the women's semi-finals be? Send me your answer (and predict the total number of sets in the quarter-finals, in case we need a tie-break) to: firstname.lastname@example.org and the correct one will win a signed hat or T-shirt.
I'll be putting a question every day and all the winners will go into the hat for the big prize to be drawn at the end of the fortnight: a week at the IMG Nick Bollettieri Academy. Yesterday's winner of the daily prize was Paul Hurley.
Coaching tip of the day
The overhead. Make sure your non-hitting hand is extended fully and pointing at the ball. Have a much shorter preparation with the racket and non-hitting hand going up as quickly as possible. And make sure you extend your entire body and racket up to the ball as you make the shot.
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