(July 4, 2013) -- Sabine Lisicki became the first German player to reach a Grand Slam final since 1999 with a 6-4, 2-6, 9-7 victory over last year's Wimbledon runner-up Agnieszka Radwanska.
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The 23-year-old's victory sets up a final clash with Marion Bartoli of France, who defeated Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium in Thursday's first semifinal.
“Unbelievable,” Lisicki said. “It was a battle.”
It was, indeed.
Her 69-minute final set with Radwanska marked the second time that Lisicki fought back from a 3-0 deficit to prevail in her last three matches at Wimbledon. However improbable the first victory against top-seeded Williams was, today's 11th-hour resurrection might have been even more so, considering how badly Lisicki had gone off the rails in the middle of the match.
The afternoon started relatively simply for the German. She was the aggressor from the onset, breaking through with a service break in the seventh game when her backhand passing shot that had clipped the let cord was too hot to handle for Radwanska.
While serving for the set, Lisicki would face a break point for the first time, but the hard-serving German saved it with a huge serve and a smash, then proceeded to hit two service winners to close the first set in 33 minutes.
But thanks to a drop in her level and a stern rebuttal from Radwanska, things would quickly get complicated for Lisicki.
The No. 23 seed saved another two break points in the second game of the second set and looked to be headed for a 2-0 lead, but when she botched a volley, the doors would open for Radwanska's initial break of the match.
From there the 24-year-old ratcheted up the pressure, keeping Lisicki on the move with her eerily consistent groundstrokes and impressive patches of variety, deception and creativity.
On Lisicki's next service game, Radwanska would display her grit as well, persevering through a six-deuce game and finally converting her second consecutive break for a 3-1 lead when Lisicki's backhand sailed long.
That would be just the beginning for the calm, cool and collected Radwanska, who reeled off 9 of 10 games in total to find herself in comfortable control of the match in the deciding set, leading 3-0.
But Lisicki would draw upon her belief, gained from years of success at Wimbledon, and more recently, her shocking upset of Serena Williams on manic Monday, in which she also found herself trailing 3-0 in the final set.
“I thought 'Okay, you've done it against Serena so you can do it today as well, just hang in there,' ” Lisicki told the BBC after the match.
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Lisicki, who now owns a 19-4 career record at Wimbledon versus 16-15 at the other three Grand Slams, ended her streak of ineptitude by punching a volley into the open court to close to 3-1, then she saved two break points in the next game to get back on serve.
Radwanska would hold her ground, trying to keep the hard-hitting Lisicki off balance with a mixture of wide angles, slice-and-dice, and pinpoint serving, but Lisicki moved ahead with a break of serve in the ninth game to give herself a chance to serve for the Wimbledon final with a 5-4 lead.
Unlike her victory over Williams, in which Lisicki served the match out with aplomb, Radwanska spoiled the German's best-laid plans with a gritty game that saw her finally draw even on her fourth break point attempt.
In the six-all game, Radwanska saved two break points with an ace, but in her next service game, Lisicki's power shots proved to be too much as the No. 4 seed failed to connect on a backhand volley, sending it just a touch long on Lisicki's second break point of the game to give the German an 8-7 lead.
Lisicki would not let her second chance to serve for the Wimbledon final slip. She jumped out to a 40-0 lead, and after a last-ditch backhand winner from Radwanska, she hammered home her last big serve of the day.
It drew a weak reply, and when Lisicki's booming forehand down the line sailed past Radwanska, it was all over but the laying in the grass.
For Radwanska, who sensed a big opportunity with the world's top three players bounced from the draw and being so close to victory, the disappointment was palpable. “I was break up in the third set,” she said dejectedly. “Just two points from the match. You know, then she serve second serve like 100 miles per hour. Then, you know, it just turn the other way.”
Lisicki, meanwhile, rejoiced in the sweetness of yet another close call gone her way.
“I'm just so, so happy that I was able to finish it,” Lisicki said. “Wimbledon is my favorite tournament. I love it so much and I love being in England. I cannot believe I'm in the final.”