Wimbledon: Marion Bartoli runs out of gas as Sabine Lisicki storms into last four
Sabine Lisicki struck a major blow for the new generation of German players by knocking out Serena Williams' Wimbledon conqueror Marion Bartoli to reach her first grand slam semi-final.
Andrea Petkovic and Julia Goerges have been leading the charge but Lisicki has trumped them both with her superb run at the All England Club, becoming the first German woman since seven-time champion Steffi Graf 12 years ago to reach the last four.
She certainly did it the hard way, blowing three match points and going on to lose the second set before recovering impressively to triumph 6-4 6-7 (4/7) 6-1 against a player who ran out of energy.
This time last year 21-year-old Lisicki was on crutches with an ankle injury that was misdiagnosed and eventually kept her out for five months, and she would have had to go through qualifying had she not won the warm-up tournament in Birmingham and been awarded a wild card.
"It just feels amazing to be in the semi-finals, especially after all I went through," said Lisicki. "I think it's also great for German tennis to have great girls. It's not only me."
The world number 62 was not even born when Graf won the first of her Wimbledon titles in 1988 but she has watched some of her matches on tape and went for dinner with Graf and husband Andre Agassi in Las Vegas.
Lisicki added: "They were so successful, legends. It was just amazing to see how nice and down-to-earth people they are."
Lisicki is no stranger to success at Wimbledon having reached the quarter-finals two years ago, and she felt both that experience and her injury nightmare had proved valuable yesterday.
She said: "I think I'm more experienced and calmer. Two years ago it was different. I was more nervous. I couldn't sleep so well, all those little things.
"But now it's different. Also, after the injury, it's so nice to be back. I know how fast it can be gone, so I just try to enjoy myself even more and just try to enjoy every minute that I'm on the court."
It looked like the German's chance may have gone when she failed to win the second set but, after holding serve at the start of the third, she rapidly pulled away from a tiring Bartoli.
The match was played under the Centre Court roof while a thunderstorm raged outside, with the umpire at times struggling to make herself heard above the din.
Bartoli admitted it had been hard to concentrate, saying: "The noise of the rain dropping onto that roof, it was extremely noisy. But I think it was the same for both of us."
The 26-year-old Bartoli had played a lot of matches coming into Wimbledon, reaching the semi-finals of the French Open and then winning the warm-up tournament in Eastbourne.
She also had a stomach virus and long three-setters against Lourdes Dominguez Lino and Flavia Pennetta before she even got to play Williams yesterday, and in the end it was just too much.
Bartoli said: "My mind was trying extremely hard, but my body couldn't do anything anymore. I still fought very hard, especially in that second set. I was match points down. I have no regrets.
"I just have to rest now. I think the last month has been extremely positive. So I just have to remain positive and take the good things that I've done and move forward.
"Having to play Serena so early into the tournament, I think it was really tough to back it up today. But I still beat Serena Williams at Wimbledon. I think I still can be proud of myself."