Maria Sharapova remains on track for her first Grand Slam title in three years after reaching the final of Wimbledon on Thursday.
The Russian fifth seed recovered from a woeful start to her semi-final contest against Sabine Lisicki to eventually beat the German wildcard 6-4, 6-3.
The former world number one, who last won a Grand Slam crown at the Australian Open in 2008, looked well below par on centre court and soon found herself trailing 0-3 in the first set.
But the three-time Grand Slam winner regained her composure and thanks mainly to her powerful groundstroke game clawed her way back into the tie and locked down the opener. A double-break at the start of the second set left Lisicki hoping for a rain delay that was not to come.
By then Sharapova had complete control of the encounter.
Although the 24-year-old Russian continued to battle with her own service, her baseline game proved too hard to handle for her German opponent.
In the end Sharapova comfortably ran away with a straight sets win ending Lisicki’s dream run at SW19.
Despite an erratic display Sharapova remains favourite for the title.
In Saturday’s final she will play eighth-seeded Czech Petra Kvitova who held her nerve to beat Victoria Azarenka 6-1, 3-6, 6-2 in a topsy-turvy encounter.
The Czech, a beaten semi-finalist last year, dominated the first set but then lost her way as the Belarussian fourth seed took the second in her first grand slam semi-final appearance after four previous last-eight defeats.
Kvitova showed more grit and determination in the decider. She continued to go for her shots and came
back strongly to take the third and become the first left hander to make the Wimbledon women’s final since Martina Navratilova in 1994.
Saturday’s final will be 21-year-old Kvitova’s first in a Grand Slam tournament.
By Joe Allen (euronews)