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    Sabine Lisicki into Wimbledon final

    Sabine Lisicki was two points away from elimination on Thursday, but battled back to win, 9-7, in the third.
    anja niedringhaus/associated press
    anja niedringhaus/associated press Sabine Lisicki was two points away from elimination on Thursday, but battled back to win, 9-7, in the third. Sabine Lisicki was two points away from elimination on Thursday, but battled back to win, 9-7, in the third.

    LONDON — Whether in a match, a set, a game — or even within a single point — Sabine Lisicki simply cannot be counted out.

    Especially at Wimbledon, where she is one victory from becoming a Grand Slam champion.

    Fashioning the same sort of comeback she used to eliminate defending titlist Serena Williams at the All England Club, the 23d-seeded Lisicki reached her first major final by edging No. 4 Agnieska Radwanska of Poland, 6-4, 2-6, 9-7, in a compelling, back-and-forth match Thursday.


    ‘‘I just fought with all my heart,’’ said Lisicki, who twice was two points away from losing to 2012 runner-up Radwanska. ‘‘I believed that I could still win, no matter what the score was.’’

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    On Saturday, Lisicki will face 15th-seeded Marion Bartoli, who took a nap on a locker-room couch before heading out to Centre Court and earning a berth in her second Wimbledon final with a 6-1, 6-2 victory over No. 20 Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium.

    It’s only the second time in the 45-year Open era that two women who have never won a Grand Slam trophy will play for the championship at the grass-court tournament.

    Germany’s Lisicki and France’s Bartoli also form the second-lowest pair of seeded women to meet for the Wimbledon title. In 2007, Bartoli was No. 18 when she lost to No. 23 Venus Williams.

    ‘‘In the beginning of the tournament, no one, I think, [expected] those names in the semis or in the finals,’’ Radwanska said.


    Lisicki’s formula against Radwanska was the same one she employed while beating major champions Francesca Schiavone in the first round, Sam Stosur in the third, and Williams: powerful serves, stinging returns, and an uncanny ability to get to balls that seem out of reach. On Thursday, Lisicki smacked serves at up to 122 miles per hour, including nine aces, and hit eight return winners.

    Her game clearly is built for grass. She is 19-4 at Wimbledon, 16-15 at the other three major tournaments. She’s 8-2 in three-setters at Wimbledon, 5-9 at the other Slams.

    Bartoli also has been most successful at what many players consider tennis’s most prestigious site. Her career winning percentage at Wimbledon is .730; it’s .586 at the other Slams. She is 2-0 in Wimbledon semifinals, 0-1 elsewhere.

    ‘‘I had to play, I don’t know, 500 percent, I think, to beat Marion today. She was just too good,’’ said Flipkens, who fell facedown in the grass in the sixth game, landing on her bandaged right knee, and later received treatment.

    ‘‘I tried my slices. She didn’t have any problem with that. I tried the drop shot. She got it,’’ added Flipkens, who never had been past the fourth round at a major. ‘‘I tried a lob. I tried everything, actually.’’


    Hitting two-handed shots off both wings — like her idol, Monica Seles — Bartoli took the first three games of each set and never relented.

    Lisicki, 23, and Radwanska, 24, have known each other since they were juniors, and their styles couldn’t be more different. Lisicki is far more aggressive than Radwanska, who relies on varying speeds and angles while mainly aiming to keep the ball in play. According to the official statistics, Lisicki finished with far more winners, 60-21, and far more unforced errors, 46-10.

    Lisicki won her first five service games and was up a break in the second set when everything changed. Radwanska broke five times in a row, until Lisicki finally held again to get within 3-1 in the third. Lisicki ran off five out of six games, ignoring the distraction of a courtside scoreboard that began flickering, then was shut off. At 5-4 in the third, Lisicki served for the match, twice getting within two points of victory, but Radwanska broke again.

    At 6-5, 30-all, and again at deuce, Radwanska needed two points to win. She couldn’t do it.

    ‘‘I had a lot of chances. Couple of easy mistakes,’’ Radwanska said. ‘‘It cost me.’’

    At 7-all, Lisicki broke by nearly sitting on the grass for a backhand that forced Radwanska to miss a volley. Given another chance to serve it out, Lisicki capped the most meaningful victory of her career with a forehand winner.

    ‘‘It’s unbelievable the way she came back again in the third set,’’ said Lisicki’s coach, Wim Fissette, who used to work with four-time major champion Kim Clijsters.

    Radwanska, who spent nearly three total hours more on court than Lisicki in previous rounds, played with both thighs heavily taped.

    ‘‘If we play in two days from now,’’ she said, ‘‘I think it would be definitely different.’’

    Asked why she offered Lisicki only a cursory, no-look handshake, then quickly left the court, Radwanska answered: ‘‘Should I just be there and dance?’’

    Understandably, Lisicki’s mood at her news conference was cheerier. She couldn’t stop smiling or chuckling.

    ‘‘When I arrived here at the tournament, I just said that anything’s possible. That’s what I believed. I still do,’’ Lisicki said. ‘‘I came to win every match that I walk on the court [for], and that’s what I’ve done so far.’’