Post-Match Analysis: Sabine Lisicki v Marion Bartoli

Wimbledon 2013 hasn’t been short of surprises, but this one might just crown them all: Marion Bartoli is the new Ladies’ Singles Champion, having finished Sabine Lisicki in just two straight sets. Bartoli played exceptionally well, playing boldly and with focus and aggression, winning rally after rally with dazzling displays of shot-making. Lisicki lead for a game in the first set, then fell apart in a sequence of poor serves, bad decisions and unforced errors. She redeemed herself at the end of the second set in what might have been the most miraculous comeback of a Championships full of comebacks, but it was just a little too late. Bartoli took the set six games to four, and so the trophy.

Throughout the match, IBM SlamTracker tracked both player’s progress. IBM’s predictive analytics software analyses both players’ performance history, looking for the patterns of play that crop up when they win and lose, both against each other and against other players with a similar style to their opponent. Lisicki’s first key was that she had to win more than 39% points when returning Bartoli’s first serve, and her second was that she had to win more than 42% of points on her own second serve. Finally, she had to win more than 40% of the points in the four to nine shot rallies.

Bartoli’s first two keys opposed Lisicki’s. First she had to win more than 63% of points on first serve, then she had to win more than 66% of points when returning Lisicki’s second serve. Finally, she had to win more than 7% of first serve points with an ace.

Lisicki missed all three of her targets, winning only 21% of the points when returning Bartoli’s first serve, and 39% of the points on her own second serve. She won 38% of the four to nine shot rallies, but it was a case of close, but no cigar. Bartoli stormed her first key to the match, winning 79% of her points on first serve, and came 5% shy of her second target with 61% if the points when returning second serve. She only won 3% of her first serve points with an ace, but that was enough.

Even SlamTracker struggles with rogue factors, and here the rogue factor was a tragic case of Wimbledon Final nerves. Lisicki’s first serve percentage across the Championships was 63%. In the first set against Bartoli it dropped to 54%, and only her late comeback in the second pulled the overall figure up to 65%. She won 66% of her first serve points against Agnieszka Radwanska and 58% against Serena Williams, but only 36% against Bartoli in the first set, and 52% across the match. Unforced errors had been an issue in the semi-finals, with 46 against Radwanska’s 10. 14 unforced errors in the first set and 11 in the second didn’t help Lisicki’s chances of winning.

Bartoli, meanwhile, played consistently well. Her first serve percentage was 67%, where her previous average was 61%, and she won 79% of her first serve points against an average of 73%. She was equal to Lisicki’s serve through most of the match, and was more focused and inventive in the rallies. Based on the Championships as a whole you might argue that the runner-up deserved the ladies’ singles title, but there’s no doubt that this match – and so the trophy – belonged to Bartoli.

For the full match report, visit wimbledon.com

Stuart Andrews