Maria Sharapova survived some shaky serving (13 double faults) by being overpowering from the baseline, and she beat unseeded German Sabine Lisicki 6-4, 6-3 in 1 hour, 27 minutes in a Wimbledon semifinal.
Sharapova, seeded fifth, won this tournament in 2004, but she hasn't been past the semifinals since 2006 and seemed to be in trouble early when Lisicki won the first three games of the match in seven minutes, helped by the fact that Sharapova served two double faults in her first service game and got broken at love in the second game.
But Sharapova may have saved the match in the fourth game of the first set when she saved a break point and fought through a 12-point game to hold serve. Immediately after that, Sharapova broke Lisicki's serve with the help of powerful service returns.
PHOTOS: 2011 Wimbledon
"It's amazing to be back in the finals of Wimbledon, to break through here to get to final," Sharapova said. "I'm really happy even though I didn't play my best tennis today. She played really well, and I did quite the opposite. I had to stay focused and get back on track. I remained really focused for the rest of the match."
Sharapova will play left-handed Petra Kvitova, a first-time Wimbledon finalist, Saturday for the title.
"I have realistic expectations," said Sharapova, 24. "I haven't gone past the fourth round in a few years and to be in the final again is a great achievement for me, but I feel I have more to do. Petra's a really tricky player, a great grass-court player, a lefty who uses her serve really well. It will be a tough match, but I'm looking forward to it."
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-- Diane Pucin in Wimbledon, England
Photo: Maria Sharapova. Credit: Eddie Keogh / Reuters.