Lisicki, Bartoli to meet in Wimbledon women's final

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

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

Fashioning the same 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 6-4, 2-6, 9-7 in a compelling back-and-forth match Thursday.

"I just fought with all my heart," said Lisicki, who twice was two points from losing to 2012 runnerup Radwanska. "I believed that I could still win, no matter what the score was."

Saturday, Lisicki faces 15th-seeded Marion Bartoli, who took a nap on a locker room couch before heading out to Centre Court and earning a berth in her second Wimbledon final with a 6-1, 6-2 victory over No. 20 Kirsten Flipkens.

This is only the second time in the 45-year Open era that two women who have never won a Grand Slam will play for the championship at the grasscourt tournament.

Germany's Lisicki and France's Bartoli also form the second-lowest pair of seeded women to meet for the Wimbledon title. In 2007, Bartoli was No. 18 when she lost to No. 23 Venus Williams.

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

That's for sure.

In 11 of the past 13 years, one Williams sister or the other — and sometimes both — reached the final at the All England Club. This year five-time champion Venus sat out because of a back injury, and 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 final 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."

Some of that derives from a more daunting recovery. In 2010, she badly injured her left ankle and missed five months.

Not only did she fall outside the top 150 in the rankings, but Lisicki says her rehabilitation felt like a course in how to use that leg.

"I can still remember when the doctor told me that I have to be on crutches the next six weeks. I was like, 'Okay, when can I get back?' That was my first question," Lisicki said Thursday. "That period made me such a much stronger person and … I know anything is possible after learning how to walk again."

Her game clearly is built for grass. She is 19-4 at Wimbledon, 16-15 at the other three major tournaments. She is 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, and later received treatment.

"I tried my slices. She didn't have any problem with that. I tried the drop shot. She got it," said Flipkens, who never had been past the fourth round at a major. "I tried a lob. I tried everything, actually."

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.

As always, Bartoli took practice cuts between most points, pumped her fist after nearly every point she won and sprinted to the sideline at changeovers.

"It's not like I want to annoy my opponent," Bartoli said. "It's really me trying to be ready for the point that is coming."

LONDON — All this talk about no Americans left at Wimbledon strikes Mike and Bob Bryan as sort of odd.

After their doubles semifinal victory Thursday, the 35-year-old identical twins from California are one win from becoming the first team in the Open era to hold all four major titles at the same time.

"The Bryan Slam," they'll call it, but don't look for that news to knock baseball, hot-dog-eating contests or Andy Murray out of the headlines in either the United States or Britain.

Despite their history-making success, the Bryans live in a world where their games aren't fully appreciated and fame is hard to come by.

"The hard-core tennis fan loves doubles, but the casual sports fan doesn't know enough about it," Mike Bryan said. "They love stars. Doubles players aren't stars."

"It's the names and the stars," said legendary golfer Jack Nicklaus, who was at Wimbledon this week and watched the Bryans play. "The singles players are really good, no question about that. If the doubles players were good enough, they'd be playing singles. To a large degree, I think that's the way most people look at it."

The Bryans' opponents in Saturday's final are Croatia's Ivan Dodig and Brazil's Marcelo Melo.

Men's semifinals

Today: Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Juan Martin del Potro (8); Andy Murray (2) vs. Jerzy Janowicz (24)

TV: 8 a.m., ESPN

Lisicki, Bartoli to meet in Wimbledon women's final 07/04/13 [Last modified: Thursday, July 4, 2013 11:35pm]

© 2014 Tampa Bay Times

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...