Wimbledon 2011: Maria Sharapova returns to Wimbledon final

By Chris BevanBBC Sport

Maria Sharapova recovered from a dreadful start to beat Sabine Lisicki and reach her first Wimbledon final since she won the title in 2004.

The fifth-seeded Russian will play Petra Kvitova on Saturday after winning 6-4 6-3 in an hour and 26 minutes.

A rash of errors left Sharapova 0-3 down but she took nine of the next 10 games against the German wildcard.

Both players struggled on serve, with Sharapova hitting 13 double-faults, but some big groundstrokes saw her through.

Sharapova, who has fought back from a serious shoulder injury that threatened to end her career, is into her first Grand Slam final since the 2008 Australian Open and will be favourite to triumph against Kvitova.

But she was fortunate that 21-year-old Lisicki crumbled and was unable to produce the kind of tennis that had made her the surprise package of this year's tournament.

Sharapova made eight unforced errors in the first four games and only avoided a double-break when a Lisicki drop-shot landed a fraction wide.

But, after eventually holding, the 24-year-old settled down and began to dismantle the serve that has been such a weapon for the world number 62 this fortnight.

Sharapova was soon in complete control from the baseline, frequently finding the corners of the court with some thumping forehands and over-powering her opponent to take the first set

A double-break at the start of the second set left Lisicki hoping for rain that never came and put Sharapova on the brink of victory.

She continued to struggle on her own serve, but attacked every Lisicki delivery to end up a comfortable winner despite making 18 unforced errors in what was an erratic display.

It is seven years since Sharapova's triumph at the All England Club as a 17-year-old, the longest span between final appearances at Wimbledon on the Open era.

"It's amazing to be back in the final, it's been a while," she told the BBC afterwards. "I'm really happy, even though I didn't play my best tennis today. She played really well in the first few games and I did quite the opposite - but I remained really focused.

"I haven't gone past the fourth round here for a few years, but I still feel I have more to do. Kvitova is a great player on grass and is playing really good tennis - it'll be a tough match, but I'm looking forward to it."

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