Wimbledon 2011: Maria Sharapova brushes Sabine Lisicki aside to set up final with Petra Kvitova
Maria Sharapova blasted her way through to a second Wimbledon final with a 6-4 6-3 victory over German wild card Sabine Lisicki this afternoon.
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 big favourite to defeat Kvitova.
Lisicki 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.
Sharapova battled extremely hard just to get on the board in the next game, not helped by two more double faults, but that seemed to calm her nerves and she broke to get back on terms.
Lisicki's run to the last four has been the story of the Wimbledon 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 ninth game, Lisicki could not find the answer, and Sharapova then served out to take the set, somewhat ironically, 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.
The world number 62's booming serve has proved a huge weapon but she could not get it going today and Sharapova took a firm stranglehold on the match when she broke again for 3-0.
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.
Sharapova may have had problems with her serve, but the rest of her game looked in rude health as she pounded Lisicki from the baseline and, although she saved three break points, the German could do nothing on the fourth.
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, 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.