Time for a new champion: Lisicki, Bartoli set up Wimbledon final between 2 with no Slam titles

  • Article by: HOWARD FENDRICH , Associated Press
  • Updated: July 4, 2013 - 9:39 PM

LONDON — Whether in a match, a set, a game — or even within a single point — Sabine Lisicki simply 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 of Poland 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 away from losing to 2012 runner-up Radwanska. "I believed that I could still win, no matter what the score was."

On Saturday, Lisicki will face 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 of Belgium.

It's only the second time in the 45-year Open era that two women who have never won a Grand Slam trophy will play for the championship at the grass-court 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, while 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 last 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, 'OK, when can I get back?' That was my first question," Lisicki recalled Thursday. "That period made me such a much stronger person and ... I know anything is possible after learning how to walk again."

She cited inspiration drawn from two injured athletes in other sports, NFL quarterback Drew Brees and Alpine ski racer Hermann Maier.

Brees tore his throwing shoulder in the last game of the 2005 regular season, and needed a complicated operation. Let go by the San Diego Chargers, he wound up signing with the New Orleans Saints and led that franchise to the Super Bowl title in 2010. Maier, who won two Olympic gold medals and four overall World Cup titles, nearly lost his right leg — and his life — in a 2001 motorcycle accident. Sidelined for two years, he returned to win the World Cup in 2004.

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  • Sabine Lisicki of Germany rejoiced after defeating Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland in their women's singles semifinal match at Wimbledon on Thursday.

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