Former champion Maria Sharapova and last year’s semifinalist Petra Kvitova will square off for the Wimbledon title on Saturday after both stately blondes dismissed similar stately blondes in the Thursday semifinals.
Sharapova after immediately going down a break in the first set rallied to beat German wildcard Sabine Lisicki 6-4, 6-3. The German’s serve never came online, and Sharapova prevailed despite serving problems of her own and double-digit double faults. Lisicki was a point from a 4-0 lead before Sharapova applied her will in the first set on the All England Club’s Center Court.
“I’m thrilled to be in the final,” Sharapova said in her post-match news conference. “I was pretty realistic. I hadn’t been past the fourth round in a few years. So to be at this stage, I’m just thrilled to have the opportunity to go for it.”
The 24-year-old Sharapova is 3-1 in Grand Slam finals, winning Wimbledon in 2004, the US Open in 2006 and the Australian Open in 2008.
In the final Sharapova will meet the Czech Kvitova, who moved into the final after a 6-1, 3-6, 6-2 victory over Victoria Azarenka.
Kvitova’s serve and stinging lefty forehand were too much for Azarenka, who was appearing in her first Slam semifinal. The Czech struck 13 winners to three unforced errors for a strong start in the first set, and after a second-set walkabout managed the same stats in the third set.
“At the beginning it was so close, the first three games, but when I broke her, I started playing even better and she was a little bit down, I think,” Kvitova said. “She started playing very well again in the second set and it was tough after. It was tough mentally but I’m happy I was able to win. It was good.”
Kvitova reached the semifinals at Wimbledon a year ago, and this year becomes the first lefty in 13 years to reach a Grand Slam final after Monica Seles at the 1998 French Open.
“It’s unbelievable to be in the final,” Kvitova said. “I remember Martina Navratilova winning here, those are my first memories. It’s special for me. Coming here I didn’t think I could win Wimbledon. I got some good practice in Eastbourne and won some matches, which was important for me, and when I came here I just played match after match. There was nothing more.”
Sharapova won her only previous meeting with Kvitova 6-4, 6-3 at the 2010 Memphis event on hardcourts.
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