No. 23-seeded Sabine Lisicki has become known as a giant slayer of sorts at Wimbledon, and although Agnieszka Radwanska is no giant in stature, Lisicki's success at the All England Club proved invaluable as she ousted the No. 4-seeded Pole in a three-set marathon and will face No. 15 Marion Bartoli in the final, according to Wimbledon on Twitter.
Lisicki's run at Wimbledon this year has been magical as she came back from a huge deficit to defeat Serena Williams in the Round of 16. The German followed that up with a quarterfinal victory to set up a date with Radwanska. While this match lacked the star power of Serena, Maria Sharapova or Victoria Azarenka, it featured beautifully-played tennis and two women who refused to give in.
It is no secret that Lisicki has had a great deal of success at Wimbledon over the years; she reached the semis in 2011, but the win over Radwanska allowed her to advance to her first career Grand Slam final. Lisicki also became the first German Wimbledon finalist since the great Steffi Graf in 1999.
Lisicki faced a big deficit in the third set against Radwanska, but she was able to draw from the experience that she gained when she came back against Williams two rounds earlier.
The winner had nothing but great things to say about Radwanska following the match as the No. 4 player displayed the heart of a champion.
This match figures to be one that will stick in Radwanska's craw for a long time to come. She had a 3-0 lead in the third set and was two points away from victory. She came close last year as she dropped a tough three-set decision to Serena in the final, but this may have represented her best chance to win a Grand Slam with all of the top players eliminated.
Whatever the case, here is how all of the action played out in the exciting semifinal match between Lisicki and Radwanska on Centre Court.
Lisicki Grinds Out First Set
Things started off in routine fashion for Lisicki and Radwanska in the first set, which was somewhat surprising considering the fact that their respective paths to the semifinals were anything but routine. Radwanska started on serve and held with ease before Lisicki followed suit.
The Polish No. 4 seed held easily soon after, but she gave Lisicki a bit of trouble on her serve. Lisicki played a couple of beautiful lobs early in her second service game, but unforced errors got the best of her and led to deuce. The German recovered, though, and evened the match at 2-2.
After another pair of holds, things finally got interesting in Radwanska's fourth service game. She got herself into trouble as the aggressive Lisicki pushed forward and jumped out to a 40-0 lead. As has often been the case with Lisicki, though, she gave that lead up as Radwanska battled back to deuce.
However, Radwanska was unable to take advantage as two bad breaks in a row cost her. She seemed to get a bad bounce off the baseline, which caused her to hit her return into the net and give Lisicki the advantage. Lisicki then got a lucky break off the top of the net during a point that Radwanska seemed to have under control. Radwanska couldn't react in time, so Lisicki earned the first break of the match and took a 4-3 lead.
Lisicki carried the momentum from that break into her service game as she absolutely decimated Radwanska. Aggie was unable to get any long rallies going, which is normally what she relies upon in order to succeed. Lisicki made quick work of her as she held at love and moved within one game of taking the set.
Radwanska refused to lay down in the first set, however, even after going down 15-30 on serve. Radwanska gutted it out and utilized some crafty shot making in order to hold and put the pressure on Lisicki to hold in her own right in order to take the set.
Lisicki faced her first true test of the match as she struggled a bit on serve. Radwanska actually earned a break point, but Lisicki battled back as she has all tournament long and got things back to deuce. She then proceeded to win two consecutive points, which gave her an all-important 1-0 lead in terms of sets.
The German knew she had a challenge on her hands with regards to closing out the gritty Radwanska in straight sets, though.
Radwanska Battles Back to Force Third Set
Lisicki was clearly motivated by her strong play late in the first set as she came out guns blazing in the second. Radwanska started out on serve, but she simply couldn't get anything going. Lisicki hit winners left and right as she befuddled Radwanska by breaking her at love to take a hugely-important 1-0 lead in the second.
Radwanska could have gotten frustrated and essentially thrown in the towel after such a crucial break of serve, but she continued to play the pesky brand of tennis that she has become known for. Radwanska earned a break point, but Lisicki fought it off with a big serve. Radwanska would not be denied, though, as she gained the advantage and earned the break with a beautiful backhand winner.
Radwanska was able to hold serve immediately after and then gave Lisicki everything she could possibly handle on her serve. Lisicki was able to get out of trouble on a couple of occasions with second serves that hit the chalk, but Radwanska ultimately proved to be too much as she went from down a break to up a break and up 3-1 overall in the second set.
The seesaw affair continued in Radwanska's ensuing service game as Lisicki quickly jumped out to a 30-0 lead. Radwanska hit the shot of the match to make it 15-30 as she diffused a Lisicki drop shot with a gorgeous, cross-court slice that barely cleared the net. Lisicki was unfazed, remained in the driver's seat and was able to earn a break of her own.
After just one service break throughout the entire first set, the struggles on serve continued after Lisicki broke Radwanska. The normally bubbly German seemed to grow agitated as she attempted to knot the match back up on serve. She couldn't get anything going, though, as Radwanska frustrated her and broke yet again to take a 4-2 lead.
Radwanska made sure not to let a golden opportunity fall by the wayside this time as her service was much tidier this time around. It became blatantly obvious after her third break of Lisicki in the set that Radwanska was in control, and the Polish star confirmed that by taking care of business on serve to pull within one game of a decisive third set.
There is no question that Lisicki was flustered by the way things went in the second set after such a strong first set. Lisicki jumped out to a 30-15 lead on serve as she attempted to shift the pressure back to Radwanska, but consecutive double faults put her at a 30-40 disadvantage. Lisicki was finally able to get a serve in, but she sprayed her backhand wide and gave Radwanska the second set.
Radwanska had all the momentum heading into the third set, but Lisicki has proverbially come back from the dead many times at the All England Club.
Lisicki Turns the Tide Again to Advance to Final
Lisicki continued to scuffle early in the third set after a nightmarish second set put her on her heels. Radwanska had little trouble holding serve to open the set, but the true test came on Lisicki's first service game. The German had an opportunity to hold, but Radwanska showed her mettle as she scrambled effectively and forced Lisicki into making mistakes. Radwanska earned yet another break and took a huge 2-0 lead.
Radwanska went on serve knowing full well that Lisicki could break out at any time. Lisicki lost eight consecutive games against Serena Williams in the Round of 16 between the second and third sets, so she is more than capable of beating the odds. Radwanska prolonged a potential comeback, though, as she did well to hold serve, which gave her a 3-0 advantage.
Things could have really gotten out of control for Lisicki if she allowed Radwanska to break her yet again, but the No. 23 seed was able to stabilize things a bit in her second service game of the third set. Lisicki seemed to be much more under control, and she placed her shots with far more accuracy as she held and pulled within two games of Radwanska.
After so much disappointment in the second and third sets, simply holding serve appeared to energize the down-and-out Lisicki. The positive vibes generated from her hold of serve carried over into Radwanska's next service game as Lisicki dictated the points and was clearly the aggressor. She finished the game off with a huge cross-court forehand as she earned the break and gave herself a chance to tie things up on serve.
Lisicki had some added spring in her step after the break and she was absolutely dominant on her next serve. Lisicki held at love and didn't allow any rallies to materialize. The German won the game in about a minute and put all the pressure back on Radwanska's shoulders as she had to produce a hold of her own to stem the tide.
Radwanska did precisely that, providing Lisicki with a definitive answer and proved that she would not fold on the Wimbledon stage. Serena was unable to recover once Lisicki took control in their semifinal match, but Radwanska did not suffer the same fate following Lisicki's hold as she was able to hold as well.
Lisicki botched an easy forehand winner to open her next service game, but she regrouped by winning the next point and followed that up by cracking two aces to take a 40-15 lead. Radwanska grinded out the next two points, however, and was able to force deuce. Lisicki narrowly averted disaster as her lob barely missed the racket of Radwanska to give her the advantage. Lisicki then closed out her serve to knot it at 4-4.
Radwanska was unable to halt Lisicki's momentum as she did during her previous service game as the German pressed the issue and had Radwanska on the defensive. Playing a defensive style is Radwanska's preference, but Lisicki was razor sharp and took advantage of a huge break point opportunity to move within one game of winning the match.
With her back firmly against the wall, Radwanska knew that she had to empty her bag of tricks in order to stay alive. That is precisely what she did, using an array of drop shots and lobs to break Lisicki. While Lisicki's monster serve equalized things to the tune of three aces in the game, Radwanska refused to lose and extended the match.
After giving her serve away last time, Radwanska had a ton of pressure on her shoulders as she couldn't afford to do so again. It's clear that Radwanska had no plans of being broken as she looked very calm and confident on serve. Lisicki gave her a couple nervous moments as she hit some big shots, but Radwanska mixed things up and did enough to hang on and divert the pressure to Lisicki.
Lisicki once again came up big on serve as she was able to get out of some sticky situations thanks to her powerful service. Perhaps the best point of the match came with things level at 15-15 as Radwanska had to essentially run off the court in order to retrieve a Lisicki shot. Lisicki hit a winner into the open court, which prompted Radwanska to jokingly throw her racket at the ball. Lisicki held on from there and tied the match back up.
Radwanska appeared to be on the ropes after Lisicki's hold as Lisicki earned two break points. Radwanska placed her serves well, though, and was able to force deuce. Radwanska then hit one of the match's biggest shots as she came to net and skidded her shot off the tape and in. Radwanska was able to close out her service and come to within one game of winning the match once again.
Lisicki shot out to a 40-0 lead on service, but things got a bit nervous as she allowed Radwanska to win the next two points. Radwanska then nearly forced deuce as her shot hit the top of the net, but rather than trickling over, it fell on her side. Lisicki was once again able to hold under pressure and the marathon match continued.
After going shot for shot throughout the third set, Lisicki was finally able to deal Radwanska a potentially fatal blow with the set tied 7-7. Radwanska played much more aggressively and it may have ultimately been her downfall as Lisicki was able to hit some nice passing shots and lobs. Radwanska came to the net facing break point, but her shot went long and Lisicki put herself in an enviable position.
How will Lisicki fare in the Wimbledon final?
Unfortunately for Radwanska, she simply couldn't recover from the break. Lisicki jumped out to a 40-0 lead with ease on serve, and while Radwanska was able to survive one match point, Lisicki finally put her away with a big forehand.
Both women refused to lose, but the nature of the beast is that there always has to be one winner and one loser in tennis. Both Lisicki and Radwanska clearly deserved to win, but it was Lisicki who ultimately came out on top in one of the best ladies' matches in recent memory.
Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter