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GIANT KILLER

LONDON: German Sabine Lisicki held her nerve to beat Polish fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska 6-4, 2-6, 9-7 in a gripping semi-final yesterday and reach her first Wimbledon final.

The 23rd seed, who knocked out defending champion Serena Williams in the fourth round, proved too strong for her Polish opponent who was runner-up at the All England Club last year.

Lisicki will play 15th seed Marion Bartoli in the final tomorrow. The French lady beat Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium 6-1, 6-2. "It was unbelievable, the last few games were so exciting," Lisicki said.

"Agnieszka played so well, it was a battle and I'm so happy to have won it."

Lisicki wrapped up the first set in 33 minutes and, brimming with confidence, broke again in the opening game of the second.

The match then turned on its head, however, as Lisicki's concentration faltered and Radwanska started to get a read on the German's serve.

She immediately broke back and moved 3-1 ahead and although the German kept going for her shots and was rewarded with another break in the next game, Radwanska had the momentum and took the set.

Lisicki's serve, which had been such a weapon in the first set, was in disarray. She was broken for the fifth successive time at the start of the third set and trailed 3-0.

The German suddenly rediscovered her form, fighting back to level at 3-3 and breaking again to lead 5-4.

She served for the match, but in keeping with what had gone before, she faltered and was broken. Within the pressure-cooker atmosphere of Centre Court both players diced with danger.

Radwanska saved two break points to hold for a 7-6 lead but was unable to repeat the trick as Lisicki broke decisively in the 15th game when her opponent sent a volley long.

After choking the first time, Lisicki kept her cool, ending a dramatic contest with a forehand winner after two hours and 18 minutes.

She fell face first to the floor before hauling herself off the deck to bow to all four sides of the stadium as the fans rose in unison to applaud.

"I didn't know how it would end, I fought with all my heart but I believed I could win no matter what the score was," Lisicki said.

Earlier, Bartoli barely had time to go through her full repertoire of mannerisms to reach her second Wimbledon final.

The 15th seed clinched victory in 63 one-sided minutes, overwhelming Flipkens who was making her first appearance in a grand slam semi-final.

Bartoli, one of the most unorthodox players in the women's game, crunched winners with her double-fisted forehands and backhands and fired down a second serve ace at nearly 100mph.

"I just cannot believe it, I played so well," Bartoli, beaten by Venus Williams in the 2007 final, said. "I saw the ball like a football. I hit it cleanly from the start. To play so well in the semi-final at Wimbledon is an amazing feeling."

Flipkens knocked out former champion Petra Kvitova in the quarter-finals but looked pensive throughout against Bartoli and needed treatment on her heavily-strapped right knee in the middle of the second set.



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