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Bartoli does hit off both wings with her palms wrapped around her racket handle, the same as her idol, Monica Seles. That’s only one of Bartoli’s quirks. She explained six years ago that she was able to win her Wimbledon semifinal because James Bond actor Pierce Brosnan was sitting in the stands.
Her father, a doctor by trade, coaches Bartoli and devised all sorts of original training methods, including taping tennis balls to the heels of her shoes so she’d be forced to stay on her toes. Between points, she hops in place and takes practice swings. She doesn’t bounce the ball before hitting serves, instead crossing her wrists before the toss.
"You do what you have to do to win," said American Sloane Stephens, the woman Bartoli beat in the quarterfinals. "And if that helps her, then she’s got it down pat."
The 23-year-old Lisicki and 24-year-old Radwanska have met twice before, each winning once — but never on grass, never this deep into a tournament, and never at a Grand Slam.
Their matchup represents an intriguing contrast in styles. Lisicki pounds the ball, hitting serves faster than 120 mph, often resulting in aces (she ranks second to Serena Williams on tour this season). She will, on occasion, turn to drop shots, including six for winners in her quarterfinal victory over 46th-ranked Kaia Kanepi.
While Lisicki averaged 109 mph on first serves in the fourth round, Radwanska averaged 90 mph in the quarterfinals.
Radwanska is all about patience and subtlety, mixing speeds and spins and often letting her opponent make the first mistake. In her three-set victory over Li on Tuesday, Radwanska finished with 18 unforced errors and 32 winners. Li had 40 unforced errors, 58 winners.
Thinking back to her run to last year’s title match at Wimbledon, Radwanska said: "I know how it is, what I have to do, to be in the final again. But it helps, for sure, it’s not the first time."
Sometime Saturday, someone will be holding a Grand Slam champion’s trophy for the first time.
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