It was the air swings and the two-fisted forehand that got to me.

Between every point, Bartoli would turn her back to the net, face the wall and take swings at the air, bouncing up and down on her toes as if she just came to the starting line and not already an hour into the match.

She would make swooshing sounds staring into the ground, jabbering like the kid in the schoolyard imagining the magic moment where he would come up to the plate and in the ninth inning with two outs and two strikes he would take the next pitch, hammer into the the center field seats, and save the game. Only this wasn’t baseball. It was tennis. And it was Wimbledon.

Flipkens tried – she tried returning serve and charging the net only to have Bartoli lob a ball over her head. She tried cross court challenges with slices and drop shots but again Bartoli just rocketed the ball low into the corners as if she was carefully packing a suitcase. Flipkens took every shot with an intelligent arrogance – but she didn’t seem to realize that she was up against a tennis player who was already proven to have an IQ to match Einstein’s and around 40 points higher than the MENSA cutoff.

The final on Saturday might not be so easy. Lisicki comes in strong and positive with memories of having beaten Serena Williams, one of the most powerful women in tennis. Lisicki, who is rumored to have an allergy to grass, played as if she was born on the front lawn, reducing Serena to a grade school player. Although not as powerful, Lisicki returned shots in kind placing them carefully into the corners of the court and sucking Serena into the net with drop shots that Williams couldn’t return.

At one point, in between sets, Serena and Lisicki passed each other mid-court on the change. Lisicki kept her eyes on Serena as if to offer a nod of recognition but the powerhouse just looked away rumbling past to her seat. Lisicki smiled and seemed to mouth the word “whatever”, took her towel, and went back to work.

The Saturday final between Bartoli and Lisicki will be a match of power and intelligence. Bartoli, with a two-fisted forehand that she modeled after Monica Seles, a childhood hero, may prove to be her weakness. The style tends to shorten her reach and can weaken her return on the stretch. Lisicki has a powerful serve and is highly accurate at picking her spots on the court. But she’s playing a competitor with a great percentage at Wimbledon who has a powerful return and never seems to stop moving.

I lost interest in the men’s game a while ago. A bunch of guys trying to look good in tennis whites and hair gel who act as if they own the sport. But not here, not at Wimbledon. The women are the ones at work here. They’re the ones to watch.

bartoli_lisicki Marion Bartoli and Sabine Lisicki

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