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Maria face Petra in women’s final

London, June 30 (Agencies/IANS)
Published on 30 Jun. 2011 11:55 PM IST
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A dominant Maria Sharapova beat Sabine Lisicki to make Saturday’s Wimbledon final. The German was the one playing in her first grand slam semi-final but it was three-time slam champion Sharapova who looked the more nervous, with her sometimes vulnerable serve letting her down.  Two double faults helped Lisicki break in her opponent’s first service game and she quickly made it 3-0. Lisicki’s run to the the last four has been the story of the women’s tournament, with the 2009 quarter-finalist needing a wild card after dropping down the rankings following an ankle injury that ruled her out for much of last year. The 21-year-old had been hugely impressive in wins over French Open champion Li Na and Marion Bartoli but she was on the back foot as Sharapova found her range. When the Russian brought up a break point in the 9th game, Lisicki could not find the answer, and Sharapova then served out the set, with an ace. Sharapova had the bit between her teeth and Lisicki rather crumbled in the opening game of the second set, serving two double faults of her own to be broken to love. Lisicki seemed distracted by the drizzle that had started to fall but play continued and she was handed a lifeline as the fifth seed took her tally of double faults to 10 to be broken for a second time. That put Sharapova within two games of victory, and the shrieks grew ever louder as she came out on top of another battle on her serve to move to 5-1. Lisicki had won just two games in their only previous meeting in Miami earlier this year but she forced Sharapova to serve it out this time, and that proved a challenge the Russian was not up to, broken thanks to a 13th double fault. It was only a short delay for Sharapova, though, with some crunching returns earning her a first match point, which she took when Lisicki fired a forehand long.The fifth seed, who will play Petra Kvitova on Saturday, overcame a poor start and 13 double faults to move to within one victory of reclaiming the title she won as a 17-year-old in 2004. Sharapova has not been in a grand slam final since winning the Australian Open in 2008 but has showed this year she is at last over her shoulder problems and will be a favourite to defeat Kvitova. Meanwhile, Czech eighth seed Petra Kvitova produced a blistering display to beat Victoria Azarenka and reach her first Grand Slam final at Wimbledon. The 21-year-old left-hander, who lost to Serena in the semi-finals last year, reeled off the winners as she came through 6-1 3-6 6-2. Belarusian Azarenka, seeded fourth, was making her Grand Slam semi-final debut but could not contain Kvitova. The Czech will play Maria Sharapova or Sabine Lisicki in Saturday’s final. Kvitova, who beat Azarenka in the 3rd round at Wimbledon last year, is known for her shot-making ability and she made a blistering start on Centre Court, making 13 winners and breaking twice as the first set flew by in 27 minutes. The power and depth of the Czech’s groundstrokes, and her ability to hit clean winners off both sides, left Azarenka reeling, but for all her her talent Kvitova remains inconsistent and her level dropped at the start of the second set. Azarenka, 21, won the first six points to take control of the second set and would not relinquish that lead, pummelling her way to the set with a succession of backhands in game nine. The Belarusian was the one playing in her first Grand Slam semi-final but the world number five has been a contender at the top level for some time now, and might have been expected to hold her nerve better. It was her misfortune that the Kvitova of the early stages began to resurface with a love hold to open the set, before Azarenka buckled under more huge hitting to drop serve. Kvitova had won the second set of their third-round clash 6-0 last year and she was on course for something similar at 3-0, but Azarenka slowed the Czech express in game five, only to miss two break-back points. It was still a huge task for Kvitova to close it as she tried to become only the fourth Czech woman to reach the Wimbledon final after Martina Navratilova, Hana Mandlikova and Jana Novotna, but she held her nerve as Azarenka’s cracked. Meanwhile, India’s Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna cruised past Czech Republic’s Martin Damm and Renata Voracova 6-3, 6-0 to enter the mixed doubles quarterfinals of the Wimbledon Championships. The sixth seeded Indian pair will play the winner of the match between Andy Ram of Israel and Meghann Shaughnessy of the US, seeded 15th, and Paul Hanley of Australia and Su-Wei Hsieh of Chinese Taipei. India’s Mahesh Bhupathi and Elina Vesnina of Russia are also in the quarterfinals. They beat Eric Butorac of the US and Olga Govortsova of Belarus 6-2, 7-6 (7) Wednesday. Bhupathi’s doubles partner, Leander Paes and Cara Black of Zimbabwe will take on Nenad Zimonjic of Serbia and Katarina Srebotnik of Slovakia later Thursday in a third-round match. Sania has also made it to the the women’s doubles semi-final with partner Vesnina. 

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