Serena Beats Lisicki, Bartoli Awaits In Final

Serena Williams stormed past Sabine Lisicki and into the final of the Bank of the West Classic.

Published July 30, 2011 12:00

Serena Beats Lisicki, Bartoli Awaits In Final
Serena Williams

STANFORD, CA, USA - In just her third tournament back from a year out of the game due to injury and illness, Serena Williams stormed into the final of the Bank of the West Classic on Saturday night, following up her 61 63 quarterfinal win over Maria Sharapova with a 61 62 semifinal win over Sabine Lisicki.

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Just like the aforementioned victory over Sharapova, Williams was in vintage form, playing first strike tennis at its best with huge serves and unrelenting aggression from the ground. She was also in fine form on the big points - she converted four of her six break points and fended off all six of Lisicki's.

"I didn't play my best in the beginning. I was too tight," Lisicki said. "I think I started playing better from 16 03, which is a little bit late against such a champion like Serena. But it was still a good experience for me, I had never played Serena before, and I believe it will help me in the future."

"There are still shots I'm not going for and not making that I know I can make once I get more confident and more match play. I'll be able to make those," Williams said. "It's encouraging to me that I can do more, I can do better."

Many are talking about Williams' ranking falling out of the Top 100 after Wimbledon, but it seems like it won't take long for her to return to that elite - currently at No.169, she is projected to move to around No.110 by virtue of reaching the final here, and is projected to return to the Top 80 with the title.

"It's kind of fun. I feel like a kid again," Williams said about the rankings. "When I first came out my goal was to be in the Top 100, then to be in a Grand Slam without needing a wildcard, so now I have those goals again. It's fun."

Lisicki had taken out No.4 seed Sam Stosur and No.5 seed Agnieszka Radwanska this week. She is now 14-2 in her last 16 matches (the other loss came to Sharapova in the semifinals of Wimbledon four weeks ago).

Earlier, No.3 seed Marion Bartoli made her way into the final after No.8 seed Dominika Cibulkova withdrew prior to their semi with a left abdominal strain.

"It had been bothering me the whole week on and off, but it really started to be painful as I was playing my quarterfinal yesterday," Cibulkova said. "I was able to finish the match and I thought maybe it would be better in the morning, but it wasn't. I went for an MRI and the doctor told me it wasn't a good idea to keep playing, that I could make it even worse. I hope I won't need more than a week to recover. I'm going to Carlsbad - I have some things to do there - and I have a bye so I don't play until Wednesday, but I don't know. It's still open.

"It was a great tournament. I was really looking forward to maybe getting my first WTA title here. I wish Marion, Sabine and Serena the best of luck this week."

Bartoli is now through to her third final at this tournament, after finishing runner-up in 2008 (losing to Aleksandra Wozniak in the final) and winning the title in 2009 (beating Venus Williams in the final). "Ayumi hurt herself on the court against me and now Dominika hurt herself yesterday. It's really bad luck for both of those girls," she said. "I'll just practice more and play some practice sets, and just make sure I'm keeping my level up with the final coming up.

"It's obviously a shame Dominika had to pull out today."

Williams leads Bartoli in their head-to-head series, 2-1, although Bartoli did beat Williams in their most recent encounter at Wimbledon (read more here).

"It's a whole new match," Williams said about the final. "I probably would have preferred to win at Wimbledon, but I haven't won a regular WTA tournament in forever, so I'm going to try my best. But my progress here, with a win or a loss tomorrow, I'm excited about the potential I have going forward."

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