Friday, December 15, 2017
Sports

A first for one of them

LONDON — Sabine Lisicki is allergic to Wimbledon, sort of.

Not the town in southwest London, and not the All England Club. But she does have hay fever, making her sensitive to the grass for which the event is so famous.

That affliction won't stop her from playing in the Wimbledon women's final today, when either she or Marion Bartoli will end up with a first Grand Slam title.

"I learned how to cope with that," said Lisicki, 23, who trains at the IMG facility in Bradenton. "In the beginning, the first time I was here — which was, what, five years ago — I really was struggling with the allergies. But by now I know what to do, what to take, to calm those allergies down. I'm on medication."

She also knows what to do when she steps onto the lawn on Centre Court.

Thursday, the 23rd-seeded German rallied from a 3-0 deficit in the third set to beat Agnieszka Radwanska and reach her first major final. She did the same thing in the fourth round, when she eliminated defending champion Serena Williams.

"I had a lot of challenges on my way to the finals with players being aggressive, players who were very solid, moving very well," Lisicki said. "So it will be another challenge."

Today's match is only the second time in the 45-year Open era that two women who have never won a Grand Slam trophy play for the championship at the All England Club. And it's difficult to say who has the edge.

Bartoli, 28, has been in this position before, reaching the 2007 Wimbledon final, which she lost to Venus Williams. The 15th seed from France hasn't lost a set this year, winning all six of her matches in straight sets. Lisicki is 3-1 against Bartoli, including a win at Wimbledon two years ago, when she reached the semifinals.

"A final of a Grand Slam is always a matter of details. Maybe a point here, a point there will make the difference," said Bartoli. "Maybe someone who is a bit more gutsy than the other player, someone who is having a better day than the others."

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