WIMBLEDON, England -- Sabine Lisicki of Germany was previously best known during this year’s Wimbledon tournament for upsetting favored Serena Williams in the round of 16. Lisicki will now be even better known as a first-time Wimbledon finalist.
Lisicki, seeded No. 24, rode out a wild turn of events on Thursday to upset No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska, 6-2, 2-6, 9-7, and advance to Saturday’s final. Lisicki, who lives in Bradenton, Fla., lost the first three games of the third set before coming back, proving she has the mental strength to complement her physical gifts and all-around game.
Lisicki will face No. 15 Marion Bartoli of France, who routed No. 20 Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium, 6-1, 6-2, in the first semifinal on Center Court on Thursday. Lisicki holds a career 3-1 edge over Bartoli but they have split their two matches on grass. Bartoli prevailed in a first-round meeting at Wimbledon in 2008 and Lisicki won a three-set quarterfinal at Wimbledon a year ago.
“I fought with all my heart and believed I could still win, no matter what the score was,” said Lisicki, who is -- believe it or not -- allergic to grass.
She had also trailed Williams, 3-0, in the third set of their match and was down a break before rallying to defeat the world's top-ranked player.
In a thoroughly entertaining match that veered wildly in favor of each player at different times, Lisicki faded in the second set but found new strength in the third to break Radwanska’s serve and go up, 5-4, with a chance to serve for the match. However, Radwanska -- who played with both thighs tightly bandaged and often applied ice packs to her legs during breaks -- fought back for 5-5 and went ahead, 6-5, with a service winner.
Lisicki responded with a splendid service game that included a 115-mph serve and climbed back to equal footing at 6-6. But Radwanska regained the lead at 7-6 with an ace, only to have Lisicki pull even at 7-7 when a cross-court shot hit the net and fell back on Radwanska’s side.
Lisicki broke Randwanska’s serve for an 8-7 lead and served for the match for the second time. Radwanska staved off one match point but Lisicki finished if off with a forehand winner.
Lisicki humbled top-ranked Williams in the fourth round and defeated Kaia Kanepi of Estonia, 6-3, 6-3, in the quarterfinals. This will be the first Wimbledon final appearance for Lisicki, 23. Her previous best here was a semifinal loss to Maria Sharapova in 2011 as a wild-card entrant.
This will be the 15th women’s final featuring two players vying for their first career Grand Slam title. The most recent was the 2010 French Open, when Francesca Schiavone defeated Samantha Stosur. The last time it happened at Wimbledon was 1998, when Jana Novotna defeated Nathalie Tauziat.
Lisicki is the first German woman to reach a Grand Slam singles final since 1999, when Steffi Graf was the runner-up to Lindsay Davenport at Wimbledon.
Separately, Wimbledon officials announced the schedule for Friday’s men’s semifinals on Center Court. No. 1 Novak Djokovic of Serbia will face No. 8 Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina in the first match, followed by No. 24 Jerzy Janowicz of Poland facing No. 2 Andy Murray of Britain.
And on the Fourth of July, there was a rare but significant American success to report here.
In men’s doubles, top-seeded twins Bob and Mike Bryan advanced to Saturday’s final and sustained their hopes of winning all four Slams in a row for the first time. They defeated Rohan Bopanna of India and Edouard Roger-Vasselin of France, 6-7 (4), 6-4, 6-3, 5-7, 6-3, on Thursday.
They will face Ivan Dodig of Croatia and Marcelo Melo of Brazil, the 12th-seeded doubles team that defeated No. 4 Leander Paes of India and Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3.