LONDON, June 28 (Agencies): German wild card Sabine Lisicki conquered her nerves to defeat France�s Marion Bartoli and take her amazing Wimbledon run into the quarter-finals.
On a stormy afternoon, the 21-year-old beat former finalist Bartoli 6-4, 6-7 (4-7), 6-1 under the Centre Court roof.
A former quarter-finalist, Lisicki was given the wild card as she returns from a serious ankle injury that saw her drop to 218 in the world rankings.
She will play Maria Sharapova or Dominika Cibulkova in the semi-finals.
She held her nerve after failing to serve out the match at the first attempt, seeing three match points slip by in a nervous service game at 6-4, 5-4 and recovering from losing the tie-break to dominate the decider. The start of the match was delayed for the roof to be brought over as rain hit the All England Club just before the 1300 BST start time, but when play got under way, Lisicki came out firing.
She broke to love in the opening game, only for Bartoli to hit straight back in game two, which was interrupted by a huge crack of thunder that made Lisicki jump and prompted nervous laughter from the 15,000 spectators.
Lisicki recovered quickly enough and broke once again at 1-1, using her heavy to serve to dominate before a sweetly-struck backhand down the line closed out the set after 43 minutes. The German�s ability to make winners on serve and off the ground was giving her the edge, five aces and 29 winners comparing to no aces and nine winners from Bartoli midway through the second set.
But when the time came to seal victory, Lisicki�s nerve went. Three match points went begging as that potent first serve deserted her and even a magnificent backhand lob could not stop Bartoli making it 5-5, before going on to level the match in the tie-break.
However, Bartoli looked to be feeling the effects of a draining win over Serena Williams on Monday, and the 26-year-old ninth seed�s form dipped alarmingly in the final set.
Lisicki raced into a 3-0 lead and this time did not falter, wrapping up victory after two hours and 21 minutes to become the first German woman in the Wimbledon semi-finals since Steffi Graf in 1999. �I�m speechless, I cannot believe it yet,� Lisicki told BBC Sport. �I was very disappointed with myself at 5-4 in the second set when I missed easily - I should have just gone for it.
�But I felt I was the better player today and knew I had to focus and fight again in the third set to win it.�