Sharapova crushes Lisicki to reach Wimbledon final


Maria Sharapova outgunned big-hitting German youngster Sabine Lisicki in straight sets here Thursday to power into her first Wimbledon final for seven years. The Russian fifth seed — the winner in 2004 — overcame a slow start to overwhelm wildcard Lisicki 6-4, 6-3 to advance to a final against Czech eighth seed Petra Kvitova on Saturday. World number 62 Lisicki, who had stunned second seeded French Open champion Li Na during a fairytale run to the last four, was always in trouble after her powerful serve deserted her midway through the first set. “It’s amazing to be back in the final at Wimbledon, it’s been a while,” a delighted Sharapova said afterwards. “I’m really happy even though I didn’t play my best tennis today,” added Sharapova, who totted up 13 double-faults during a patchy display. “To be in the final is a great achievement for me but I still feel like I’ve got more to do.”
Sharapova got off to a horrendous start, double-faulting twice in her opening service game as Lisicki surged into a 2-0 lead. Lisicki, regularly clocking serves timed at 120mph, coolly held to go 3-0 up and soon had Sharapova struggling in the next game. The Russian favourite saved a crucial break point which would have put Lisicki 4-0 up before eventually holding to remain in touch at 3-1. With her service game misfiring, Sharapova turned to her booming groundstrokes to try and find a way into the match, attacking Lisicki’s suspect second serve to break back in the fifth game. Sharapova held to level at 3-3 but Lisicki was soon back into her rhythm, holding comfortably to go 4-3 up. Lisicki’s serve unravelled in the eighth game however, and with Sharapova punishing her second serve mercilessly, the German suffered another break.
Sharapova wrapped up the first set with her first ace of the match, letting out a roar of delight as Lisicki trudged back to her chair. Lisicki’s problems deepened in the opening game of the second set as she double-faulted twice to gift Sharapova yet another a break. With Lisicki in disarray, the 21-year-old appealed to the umpire as specks of rain began to fall on Centre Court in her next service game at 0-30 down. Play continued however and Sharapova secured another break to go 3-0 up and from there the result was never in doubt. Lisicki was given a glimmer of hope when she broke in the fourth, but Sharapova broke back immediately to regain the initiative before holding for 5-1. Lisicki secured a break in the eighth game to delay the inevitable, but Sharapova broke again to claim the win.