Wimbledon: Underdogs Lisicki, Bartoli reach final

By Howard Fendrich
Associated Press  • 
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Anja Niedringhaus | Associated Press photos
Sabine Lisicki of Germany, seeded 23rd, reacts to reaching the Wimbledon final for the first time in her career.

LONDON — Whether in a match, a set, a game or even a single point, Sabine Lisicki simply cannot be counted out.

Especially at Wimbledon, where she is one victory from becoming a Grand Slam champion for the first time.

Fashioning the sort of comeback she used to eliminate defending titlist Serena Williams at the All England Club, the 23rd-seeded Lisicki reached her first major final by edging No. 4 Agnieska Radwanska of Poland 6-4, 2-6, 9-7 yesterday.

“I just fought with all my heart,” said Lisicki, who twice was two points away from losing to Radwanska, the 2012 runner-up. “I believed that I could still win, no matter what the score was.”

On Saturday, Lisicki will face 15th-seeded Marion Bartoli, who made her second Wimbledon final with a 6-1, 6-2 victory over No. 20 Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium.

It will be only the second time in the 45-year open era that two women who have never won a Grand Slam trophy will play for the championship at the grass-court tournament.

Germany’s Lisicki and France’s Bartoli also form the second-lowest-seeded pair of women to meet for the Wimbledon title.

“In the beginning of the tournament, no one, I think, (expected) those names in the semis or in the finals,” Radwanska said.

In 11 of the past 13 years, at least one Williams sister reached the final at the All England Club. This year, five-time champion Venus sat out because of a back injury, while five-time champion Serena’s 34-match winning streak ended with a loss to Lisicki in Monday’s fourth round.

In that match, Lisicki won the first set, dropped nine games in a row to fall behind 3-0 in the third, and eventually took the last four games.

In the semifinals, Lisicki won the first set, dropped nine of 11 games to fall behind 3-0 in the third and eventually turned it around.

“I thought, ‘I’ve done it against Serena, so you can do it today as well. Just hang in there,’ ” Lisicki said. “It gave me so much confidence.” Lisicki’s formula against Radwanska was the same one she employed while beating major champions Francesca Schiavone in the first round, Sam Stosur in the third and Williams: powerful serves, stinging returns and an uncanny ability to get to balls that seemed out of reach. Yesterday, Lisicki smacked serves at up to 122 mph, including nine aces, and hit eight return winners.

Her game clearly is built for grass. She is 19-4 at Wimbledon, 16-15 at the other three major tournaments. She’s 8-2 in three-setters at Wimbledon, 5-9 at the other Slams.

Bartoli also has been most successful at what many players consider tennis’ most prestigious site. Her career winning percentage at Wimbledon is .730; it’s .586 at the other Slams. She is 2-0 in Wimbledon semifinals, 0-1 elsewhere.

“I had to play, I don’t know, 500 percent, I think, to beat Marion today. She was just too good,” said Flipkens, who fell face-down in the grass in the sixth game, landing on her bandaged right knee. She later received treatment.

“I tried my slices. She didn’t have any problem with that. I tried the drop shot. She got it. I tried a lob. I tried everything, actually.”

Hitting two-handed shots off both wings — like her idol, Monica Seles — Bartoli took the first three games of each set and never relented.

“Definitely the best match of the tournament for her,” said 2006 Wimbledon winner Amelie Mauresmo, the French Fed Cup captain, who is serving as an adviser to Bartoli.

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