Maria Sharapova storms into Wimbledon final
Fifth seed and former champion Maria Sharapova swept past unseeded German Sabine Lisicki 6-4 6-3 to romp through to the Wimbledon women’s final.
The resurgent Russian, who has been the bookies’ favourite to win the women’s title since world number one Caroline Wozniacki and both Williams sisters all crashed out at the fourth-round stage, recovered from losing her very first service game to sealing a straight-sets victory on Centre Court.
Lisicki, who reached the quarter-finals two years ago as a 19-year-old before an ankle injury stalled her progress, has fully justified the organisers’ decision to hand her a wildcard and looked like inflicting a major upset as she stormed into a 3-0 lead early in the opening set.
Sharapova wavered on her serve from the outset and saw her delivery ruthlessly dismantled by the German, who received the backing of the Centre Court crowd for her energetic and fearless hitting early on.
It took the 24-year-old Russian, who won at the All England Club as a teenager back in 2004, until 2-3 down in the first set to finally break back and restore parity with her usual array of belligerent groundstrokes.
A further assault of the Lisicki serve saw Sharapova seize the initiative once more and a subsequent composed hold gave her the set 6-4 and capped an inspired recovery.
The second set was an altogether more one-sided affair, however, and the Russian broke serve in just the second game to stamp her authority on the encounter once more.
Rain was in the air just as Sharapova was excelling but the drizzle held off and her momentum was maintained.
A second break of serve gave the fifth seed a commanding advantage and, while Lisicki claimed one break back, it was rendered irrelevant as Sharapova held her composure to close out the match.
It was another brutally efficient performance from Sharapova, who breezed through her quarter-final against Dominika Cibulkova 6-1 6-1 in less than an hour, and the German wild-card provided barely more resistance despite her valiant efforts to force a way back into the contest.
Sharapova will now await the challenge of contesting the showpiece final with Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic on Saturday looking to hold aloft the Venus Rosewater Dish for the second time.