LONDON: Germany’s Sabine Lisicki and Marion Bartoli of France will meet for the Wimbledon title on Saturday after coming through completely contrasting semi-finals.
Bartoli was barely bothered in 62 minutes, earning a title bid six years after her first appearance as she thrashed Belgian opponent Kirsten Flipkens, 6-1, 6-2.
But No. 24 Lisicki had to call upon all of her fighting qualities to get past 2012 runner-up Agnieszka Radwanska, the fourth seed, 6-4, 2-6, 9-7.
The struggle lasted more than 2 hours, with Lisicki coming from 3-0 down in the final set after losing her way, dropping eight of nine games along the way.
The 23-year-old German took her game past her 2011 semifinal. She had strengthened her run to the final by beating surging Serena Williams in the fourth round and had received a pre-match boost from Las Vegas-based Steffi Graf, the last German woman to reach a Wimbledon final in 1999.
“When I was down 3-0, I just remembered it was the same way with Serena,” said Lisicki. “I told myself just to hang in, just like I had before. This [is] all just unbelievable, the last few games were so exciting, we were fighting all the way.
“It was a battle, I’m just so glad to have won it. I fought with all of my heart. I believed that I could win no matter what the score.”
Lisicki lost serve four times in the second set after ripping through the first. In the third, she began her recovery from the depths by returning to the aggressive game, which has served her so well on the grass.
The German was broken while trying to serve out the win from a 5-4 lead, sending a lob long after saving three break points, 5-all.
But she took her second chance in the 15th game to break again for an 8-7 lead and finished the biggest win of her career a game later on a second match point.
Bartoli, who says she can sleep almost anywhere, woke from a 30-minute locker room nap half an hour before the start, and went to the court refreshed.
“I was razor-sharp right away,” said the Frenchwoman.
Bartoli was never troubled by the 20th-ranked Flipkens, playing in her first grand slam semi and living a dream after suffering serious health problems with leg blood clots in spring 2012.
Bartoli broke on five of her seven chances, hitting 23 winners and 10 unforced errors in the abbreviated match.
Flipkens, overwhelmed in the opening set, called for the trainer and received treatment on her strapped right knee after trailing 3-0 in the second. But the medical pause only delayed the inevitable as Bartoli moved onto victory.
“I’m not going to use it as an excuse, that’s for sure,” said Flipkens. “But I fell in the first set. I fell on my bad knee and a couple of games later I started to feel a really sharp pain like I had four weeks ago,” said the 2003 junior Wimbledon champion.
“I’ve been playing with the tape so long. The knee definitely needs a rest.”
Bartoli was thrilled to be back in the final.
“I can’t believe it now, I played so well today,” said the 28-year-old winner. “Kirsten was a bit injured today but she has had a great run.
“Today I saw the ball like a football, I was hitting very cleanly form the start. Everything was working perfectly for me. To do this well in a Wimbledon semi-final is just an amazing feeling.”