Few people will have predicted the makeup of either of the women’s semifinals at Wimbledon, but there will still be plenty of pedigree on show on Centre Court on Thursday. That is especially true in the second of the day’s last-four matchups and, indeed, few should be surprised by the presence of either Agnieszka Radwanska or Sabine Lisicki at this stage of the event.
Radwanska, the fourth seed, was the defeated finalist at SW19 last year and has once again impressed on the grass in the past fortnight with her defensive acumen and inventive shot-making. Lisicki, meanwhile, has now reached at least the quarterfinals in her past four visits to Wimbledon and is now looking to better her previous best when she lost in the semifinals in 2011. With one of the women’s game’s best serves and powerful groundstrokes, her game is tailor-made for grass and the relish with which she views getting back on the surface each year is clear for all to see. Lisicki has five wins over top-five ranked opponents in her career and it says much that four of those have come at Wimbledon.
The pair have split their two previous meetings, with their last clash in Dubai last year being won in two comfortable sets by Radwanska. But there is every reason to believe that it will be very much closer this time around. It has the ingredients of a classic matchup, featuring Lisicki’s powerful attack against Radwanska’s stylish defense. The match is likely to be played on Lisicki’s terms and, if she can maintain the consistency with which she played against Serena Williams and then Kaia Kanepi in the last round, then the 23-year-old could be beaming her endearing smile once more.
The day’s first semifinal also features a former beaten finalist with Marion Bartoli going up against Kirsten Flipkens. Bartoli upset top seed Justine Henin in 2007 before eventually falling to Venus Williams in what remains her only appearance in the final of a Grand Slam. And the 15th seed has again displayed her grass-court acumen this year, progressing to the last four without the loss of a set.
Up against her will be the true surprise package of the tournament. Flipkens could not even make it into qualifying for Wimbledon last year after her ranking fell to 262 following life-threatening blood clots. But, while she may never have been past a fourth round at a Grand Slam before this week, the Belgian is a former Junior champions at the All-England Club. Yet, her dream run may reach the end of the line against the consistent flat-hitting off both wings of Bartoli.
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Where to watch: The women’s semifinals at Wimbledon will begin at 8 a.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by ESPN, with a live stream available on ESPN3.