Thursday 26 April 2018

Lionheart Lisicki sets up unlikely showdown

Sabine Lisicki
Sabine Lisicki

Simon Briggs

SABINE LISICKI'S dramatic three-set victory over Agnieszka Radwanska means that, whatever happens in tomorrow's final, the Venus Rosewater Dish will be handed to the most unlikely champion in Wimbledon's history.

Only three times has the tournament been won by a woman from outside the top 10 seeds. Two of those titles went to Venus Williams, who was already a multiple champion here. The other, more genuine outsider was Maria Sharapova, who was seeded No 13 when she shocked Serena Williams in the 2004 final.

So, this year's final between Lisicki and Marion Bartoli, who are seeded No 23 and No 15 respectively, represents an entirely new paradigm. Both might score low marks if you conducted a vox pop on Henman Hill, asking people to identify them from their photos. However, it promises to be a more competitive match than a few of the Williams sisters' victories here over the years.

Reprised

Lisicki reprised the lion-hearted performance she produced to beat Serena Williams in the fourth round to sneak past Radwanska, the fourth seed, 6-4 2-6 9-7 yesterday.

She is now just one match away from becoming the first German champion of Wimbledon since Steffi Graf in 1996.

"I don't remember it," said Lisicki, who was six when Graf won that title. "Steffi texted me to wish me luck before the match. She told me to go for it. I was just fighting for every single point and fought my heart out."

Lisicki lay in a tearful puddle on the court after finishing the match with a crunching forehand drive. A jaded Radwanska barely waited for a cursory handshake, dashing off the court almost before the umpire had finished calling out the score.

"Should I just be there and dance?" she remarked testily afterwards. "What could I do?"

Wear and tear also played a part in the other semi-final as Bartoli, who lost to Venus Williams in the 2007 final here, thrashed Kirsten Flipkens 6-1 6-2. Although Bartoli was already the stronger of the two women, her life became even easier when Flipkens fell on her heavily bandaged right knee. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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