Surprise semifinalists at Wimbledon are nothing new. After all, back in 2010 both unseeded Petra Kvitova and Tsvetana Pironkova broke through to reach the final four. But this year’s elite quartet is truly a head scratcher to predict in terms of who will reach the finals, since all are deserving in in their own way, yet only one will rise to become a brand new first time Grand Slam champion.
Sentimental favorites often get the bulk of crowd support, especially late in the second week of a major. But how can one not root for all four of these women who find themselves with a massive opportunity before them. Agnieszka Radwanska remains the top seed left and, as last year’s finalist, did enter the event something of an outside favorite. But it’s hard to see Radwanska having a better chance to win her first major especially now that she doesn’t have to deal with that troublesome trio (for Aga especially) of women ranked ahead of her who have dominated the WTA in the last few seasons. In a women’s game full of baseline bashers, her game of guile, spin and thoughtful craft truly deserves to be rewarded with a major title.
Sabine Lisicki has had a career so far full of “what if’s” as she’s notched great results at Wimbledon in the last few years only to fall apart, sometimes emotionally, often physically, during the rest of the year. For someone capable of playing top five tennis as she did in her win over Serena Williams, it’s still remarkable Lisicki has only reached a career high ranking of No. 12. If she does win it all, as she is tipped by many to do, will this spur the German to rise even higher? That is very, very hard to say right now given her past track record. What if, indeed?
If you are looking for the feel good story of the event, look no further than Belgium’s Kirsten Flipkens. A former junior Wimbledon champion, bright things were expected for her. Instead multiple injuries and setbacks, including suffering blood clots last year, forced Flipkens so low in the rankings she couldn’t even play qualifying for Wimbledon in 2012. Add in that the Flemish Tennis Federation cut her funding and Flipkens looked destined for the “What might have been” scrap heap of failed tennis prodigies.
But Flipkens, with her all-court game, continues to flourish in 2013. With nothing to lose and everything to gain, she just might accomplish what her more famous countrywomen Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin failed to do in their illustrious careers.
And if one has to mention Henin, one has to also mention the women she lost to in the semis of Wimbledon back in 2007. Back then, Marion Bartoli’s upset over the No. 1 seed Henin was considered one of the biggest upsets in recent memory. Now six years later, she finds herself carrying veteran status as she attempts to achieve her elusive goal of a first major that has seen her break coaching ties with her father in favor of Wimbledon champion Jana Novotna earlier in the year and now, at least for the fortnight, in favor of another in Amelie Mauresmo.
If all of Bartoli’s experience gives her the edge over the next few days remains to be seen. But it was the Frenchwoman, known for her kooky training methods, who perhaps made the most sense out of a weird Wimbledon after she was asked about her own unexpected run these two weeks without yet dropping a set.
“You know, tennis is kind of a crazy game, and now I am playing Kirsten Flipkens to be in the final of Wimbledon. So it’s also very unexpected, but that’s also the magic of it.”