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Hantuchova, Lisicki To Meet In Birmingham Final

On Saturday, Daniela Hantuchova beat Ana Ivanovic to reach her first grass court final in seven years. Surging Sabine Lisicki awaits.

Published June 11, 2011 05:05

Hantuchova, Lisicki To Meet In Birmingham Final
Sabine Lisicki

BIRMINGHAM, England Daniela Hantuchova and Sabine Lisicki upset higher-ranked semifinal rivals on Saturday to reach the title match at the AEGON Classic. After dropping the first set in a tie-break against No.2 seed Ana Ivanovic, fourth-seeded Hantuchova prevailed in three, while Lisicki stopped in-form No.3 seed Peng Shuai in straight sets.

Watch Sunday's final at Birmingham with WTA Live!

Ivanovic, playing her first semi of the year at the $220,000 event, was left to rue her chances after failing to convert 18 break points across the course of her match with Hantuchova. The former world No.1 also found life difficult in the set that she did win, relinquishing a 5-1 lead before holding on in a tie-break.

The opportunities kept coming for the 23-year-old Serb in the second set: she held two break points in the fifth game and five more in the seventh. But Hantuchova played the big points better to level the match before play was interrupted by rain, and upon the resumption the Slovak veteran kept control for a 67(2) 63 62 win.

"I don't know how many break points I had, but I still felt positive coming out for the third set," said world No.19 Ivanovic, who sent down 17 aces across the match. "It was only in the last couple of games that I didn't have the intensity I had previously. My mind was wandering and things happen very fast on grass.

"But it was the first time I have played four matches in a row for a long time, and that's something positive I can take into next week."

As well as improving her record against Ivanovic to 2-4, having lost four times in a row, 28-year-old Hantuchova is through to her 12th WTA final; on grass, she was runner-up at Eastbourne in 2004. Against Lisicki she'll be gunning for a fifth career title, having won the fourth at Pattaya City last February.

"I like playing on grass, and I've had a lot of experience on it, and that certainly helps you to do the right things," the world No.28 said. "I wanted to win so badly... the grass court season means so much to me. I don't want to put any pressure on myself, but I'm definitely hungry for another title."

Lisicki, who rose to No.100 this week after an ankle injury sent the former world No.22's ranking tumbling, continued her return to form with a surprisingly straightforward dispatch of Peng, 63 61. The 21-year-old German saved both break points faced, while breaking the newest member of the Top 20 four times.

"It's nearly impossible to put it into words," Lisicki said. "It's been a really great week for me, I just love the grass. Tomorrow I'll play my game, fight for every point and appreciate every minute out there."

Sunday's final, which has been brought forward to 10am because of forecast prolonged and heavy rain, represents Lisicki's first tilt at a singles trophy since Luxembourg at the close of the 2009 season (and fourth final overall). Her sole singles title came on the green clay of Charleston earlier the same year.

The doubles final will see No.2 seeds Olga Govortsova and Alla Kudryavtseva take on No.3 seeds Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci. Both sides won their semis in match tie-breaks; Govortsova and Kudryavtseva beat Casey Dellacqua and Chanelle Scheepers, while Errani and Vinci ousted top seeds Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond.

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