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Unpredictable Wimbledon heralds changing of guard

Sabine Lisicki and Marion Bartoli congratulate each other after Bartoli won the Ladies' Championship on Centre Court.
by Darren Saligari
Saturday 6 July 2013

Wimbledon 2013 will long be remembered as the tournament where the seeds crashed, especially in the women’s draw.

Nobody would have picked No.15 seed Marion Bartoli and No.23 seed Sabine Lisicki to be the last women standing. So does this final herald the arrival of 2013 champion Bartoli and Lisicki as new powers in tennis? No disrespect to the Wimbledon finalists, but the answer is ‘No’.

Of the two, there is more upside to Lisicki’s prospects. The German is just 23, possesses a big serve and forehand, and has shown she’s capable of coming back when staring defeat in the face. The top 10 beckons for the smiling German.

For Bartoli, 28, her draw this past fortnight was a gift from the tennis Gods. She didn’t play a seeded player until she met No.17 seed Sloane Stephens – who will have her day in the Grand Slam sun soon enough – in the quarters. In the semis, Bartoli faced the No.20 seed, Kirsten Flipkens, who was playing in her first major semi.

The fact is, in winning The Championship, Bartoli has not had to face a player ranked higher than her, which is rare when you are the No.15 seed and make it to the final. While it’s true that you can only beat the player on the other side of the net, should Bartoli make it to the year-end finals ,where the game’s top eight face off, don’t expect her to walk away with the silverware.

As for those absent top players, Agnieszka Radwanska will no doubt have difficulty looking back on this tournament. The No.4  seed looked to have hit form at the right time and, after her quarter-final win over No.6 seed Li Na, the tournament was seemingly hers for the taking.

Her loss in the semi-finals to Lisicki will sting for a while yet. But if she can use this setback to drive her rather than consume her, then the ultimate success will one day be hers. Look for her to come out swinging in New York this September.

Reigning US Open champion Serena Williams, upended by Lisicki in the fourth round, is one player who can be counted on to use this setback as the ultimate motivation to finish the season strongly.

Her opponent in last year’s US final, Victoria Azarenka, may have limped out of Wimbledon after the second round but once rehabilitated, she will be desperate to bounce back in New York.

With so many big names falling in the first week, it gave fans the opportunity to see how some of the lesser known players and rising stars perform on the big stage. Brit Laura Robson is one who didn’t rely on the draw to do her any favours – she took charge of her own destiny when she ousted No.10 seed Maria Kirilenko in the opening round.

Robson’s run ended in the fourth round in a tight loss but you get the sense that the 19-year-old is learning more with every major she plays.

Robson’s close friend Eugenie Bouchard is another who will learn from this experience. The 19-year-old Canadian was responsible for Ana Ivanovic’s shock exit on Black Wednesday before falling in the third round in just her second main draw at a major. Her steady rise up the rankings is assured.

Ivanovic, a former Grand Slam champion and No.1 will be disappointed with her early exit. It’s been two years since the Serbian won a title and if her current form continues, she’s unlikely to add to her 11 titles this year.

Fellow former No.1s in Maria Sharapova and Caroline Wozniacki will be similarly disappointed. Sharapova will no doubt bounce back from this setback and set her laser-like sights on the US Open.

Wozniacki, meanwhile, is in danger of falling outside the top 10. She will need to lift if she’s to still be there at year’s end.

Eighth seed Petra Kvitova may have made the quarterfinals but did so in unconvincing style. The former Wimbledon champion needs to inject a large dose of consistency into her game if she’s to hold her place among the game’s elite.

It’s true that one tournament cannot shape an entire season but these past two weeks have given us a glimpse of what the future may look like, post-Williams. And it looks good.

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