PREVIEW-Tennis-Unlikely Bartoli v Lisicki final a clash of styles
LONDON, July 5
LONDON, July 5 (Reuters) - A clash of styles featuring an unorthodox Frenchwoman and a smooth powerful German will play out when Marion Bartoli and Sabine Lisicki bid to etch their names on to the Wimbledon honours board on Saturday.
Emerging unscathed from the chaos of a women's draw that scattered the favourites and opened the door for a new champion are two players who were 1,500-1 outsiders to contest the final two weeks ago.
Yet the unpredictability of either reaching the final at the outset is where any similarity between the two ends.
Lisicki, who has a near-permanent smile stretched across her face, has a gameplan that has become conventional on the nippy lawns of the All England Club - a hammerhead serve, backed up by walloping forehands.
Bartoli, however, is one of the most unorthodox players on the tour.
A whirl of perpetual motion, she leaps from foot to foot practising air shots and has an odd repertoire of mannerisms.
She is a bundle of nervous energy that frequently explodes through her double-fisted forehands and backhands.
While 23rd seed Lisicki has captured the hearts of the home fans, Bartoli is almost surly on court, in contrast to the cheery personality she displays when the action is done and dusted.
The pair have enjoyed contrasting routes to the final.
The German has had to wield the hatchet to arrive at this point, first dethroning favourite Serena Williams in the fourth round before upsetting last year's runner-up Agnieszka Radwanska in the last four.
The Frenchwoman's route has been smoother with the 15th seed avoiding any player ranked above her.
They both prepare for battle in very different ways.
Bartoli enjoys a power nap and slept for 20 minutes before she strode out to beat Kirsten Flipkens 6-1 6-2 in her semi-final.
Lisicki cranks up the volume on her ipod, with "Play Hard" by David Guetta her preferred choice of listening.
The match has been labelled a once in a lifetime opportunity for both to claim a grand slam title their respective rankings suggest should be beyond them.
That, however, would be over-estimating the strength of the women's game.
Beneath Williams, who won three of the last four slams, the WTA tour is a hotbed of inconsistency where any number of players could rise from obscurity to challenge the so-called big names.
Lisicki certainly has the tools to become a regular feature at the business end of Wimbledon and, at 23, has many years left in her.
For someone with an allergy to grass, she has a game that is perfectly suited to the surface. She has a 19-4 win-loss record at the All England Club compared with 16-15 at the other slams.
Nicknamed "Boom Boom Bina", the girl who overcame a career-threatening ankle injury in 2010 which forced her off the tour for five months, is the first German woman to reach a grand slam final since the great Steffi Graf at Wimbledon in 1999.
Having picked the brains of another of Germany's former Wimbledon heroes, three-time men's champion Boris Becker, she feels her time has come.
"It's been a great journey and it hasn't finished yet," she said.
"From the start of the tournament I had great matches and good challenges which prepared me for tomorrow.
"I think I'm really ready."
Bartoli is five years Lisicki's senior and is also seeking a first major title.
She came close in 2007, again fighting her way through to the Wimbledon final, but was beaten by Venus Williams and won only five games.
She is predicting a closer encounter this time around.
"First of all it will be a battle of nerves and who is able to come up with the best game on that day," she told a news conference on Friday.
"A final of a grand slam is always a matter of details. Maybe a point here, a point there will make the difference. Maybe someone who is a bit more gutsy than the other player, someone who is having a better day than the others."
(Editing by Ed Osmond)
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