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Wimbledon Women Final preview

Apparently you could get 1,500-1 at the start of the tournament that Marion Bartoli (seeded 15) and Sabine Lisicki (23) would be meeting in tomorrow’s Wimbledon Women’s Final and it is doubtful whether anybody was tempted even by those odds.

But while this last ladies’ showdown at SW19 doesn’t feature one of the established stars, it is no less intriguing for that – indeed, it is reasonable to suggest that a game between two closely matched (Coral go 4/9 Lisicki, 7/4 Bartoli), talented and determined girls, both chasing a dream, will be far more entertaining than, say, Serena Williams blasting her way 6-1, 6-1 to yet another title.

And it’s not that these two new faces are dull. Far from it. Both Bartoli and Lisicki have lit up Wimbledon with their play and their smiles, particularly Lisicki, who has hardly stopped beaming from ear to ear since knocking out Williams last Monday. Both girls come over as extremely happy and confident. Even more, they each give the impression that it is their destiny to lift the Venue Rosewater Dish.

The German deserves to be favourite after beating Williams and she showed it was no flash in the pan by downing last year’s beaten finalist Agnieszka Radwanska in a thrilling encounter yesterday.

Bartoli, on the other hand, has enjoyed a smoother passage, culminating in a bloodless semi-final victory over Kirsten Flipkens, who, hampered by a knee injury, found the occasion too much for her.

But this could go all the way. Lisicki is a player who blows hot and cold – she was poor in the second set against Radwanska – and one wonders how she will deal with this final challenge. This is new territory, her first final, and most expect her to win, especially those back home anticipating a first German Wimbledon champion since Steffi Graf in 1996.

Bartoli, on the other hand, has at least been in a final here before and though she lost against Venus Williams in 2007, will have learned much from that experience and will be ready for this next big shot at the title.

The French girl raised eyebrows when confessing that she took a nap half an hour before her game against Flipkens, but this ball of energy sure was ready when the match started. She has an unorthodox serve, but it is effective and the quality of her returns will ensure that the more powerful Lisicki won’t overwhelm her when it’s her turn.

Still to drop a set this fortnight and “seeing the ball like a football”, Bartoli’s poise might well enable her to gain an early edge tomorrow and Coral’s 11/8 that she takes the first set makes some appeal. And it would certainly not be a great surprise if she went on to finish the job.

But Lisicki has self-belief by the bucketful, too – as well as maybe a slightly stronger game – and in what promises to be a fabulous final, may grind Bartoli down in the end. 11/4 Lisicki in three sets looks a decent shout.

Written by Jon Freeman