Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Wimbledon 2013 Women's singles semifinals preview

Sabine Lisicki (23) vs. Agnieszka Radwanska (4)

Originally intended to be a repeat of last year's final, Agnieszka Radwanska will in stead face off against Serena Williams' conqueror, Sabine Lisicki. It's a match up that places the guile and movement of Radwanska against the power and speed of Lisicki.

Lisicki is in great form, and importantly she followed up her upset of Serena with a thorough demolition of Kaia Kanepi the next day. Lisicki knows that grass is her best surface, and after making the semi's in 2011 she will want to go one better this year. If her serve and forehand continue to fire as they have done in the tournament so far, it will be extremely hard for the German to lose.

English: Agnieszka Radwańska‎ after her first ...
 Agnieszka Radwańska‎  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Radwanska has become the marathon specialist of the women's draw this year, winning three consecutive three-setters to reach the semis. Grass suits her game really well, despite not having a big serve or powerful shots from the baseline. In stead, her fantastic defence allied with an ability to craft points, nullifies the power that many of her opponents possess. It would however be a misnomer to call Radwanska a defensive player, as she is extremely comfortable at net, with her 139 points won with volleys, the highest in the women's draw.

Sabine Lisicki - US Open 2010
Sabine Lisicki (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Radwanska's fitness might be a key issue in this match with the amount of time she has spent on court clearly taking a toll. If there are no external factors, this match will be decided on whether Lisicki's serve remains consistent. However, if it is a match of extended rallies then Radwanska has the upper hand.

Marion Bartoli (15) vs. Kirsten Flipkens (20)

While the other three semi-finalists all boast some kind of grass court pedigree, Kirsten Flipkens is clearly the joker in the pack. Not that there is anything funny about her, as Flipkens has proven at SW19 that she possesses some serious intelligence and variety on court.

U.S. Open Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2010
Kirsten Flipkens (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Not renowned for her power or any big shots, Flipkens has shown how learning from someone with the experience and nous of Kim Clijsters can impact one's game positively. Of all the four remaining women, I think Flipkens has the best aptitude on court. Her slice is not only a defensive shot, but with the spin she generates, she also has the ability to use it as an attacking approach shot. Her forehand and backhands on the run are smartly created by luring opponents on the net. On the whole, Flipkens has demonstrated that strategy is her key weapon.

English: Marion Bartoli at the 2008 Pilot Pen ...
 Marion Bartoli (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Bartoli is the only player remaining who hasn't lost a set, and she has rekindled her game from her run to the finals of Wimbledon 2007. Her return game has been immense throughout the fortnight, and with the possible exception of Serena, no other player is as comfortable standing within the baseline on second serves. Bartoli has had problems on her own service games though, and that's the one area of her game that might cost her this close to the tournament.

Bartoli might have the edge in power and experience. That being said, Flipkens' last opponent Petra Kvitova had the same advantage. Unless Flipkens suffers from a bout of nerves, I believe her greater variety will actually be extremely problematic for Bartoli, and might just result in us having the biggest surprise finalist in the women's singles tournament since Bartoli herself.
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